A Defense of Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychology aims to understand and describe human behaviour in the light of past and continuing selection and adaptation. However, evolutionary psychology has generated substantial controversy and criticism,
from its beginning. Much resistance to evolutionary psychology was based on several misunderstandings about evolutionary theory and its application to humans.
Buss (1999) in his Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of The Mind highlight that there are five common misunderstanding for evolutionary psychology including 1) Human behaviour is genetically determined 2)If it is evolutionary we can’t change 3)
Evolutionary theory requires improbable computational abilities of organism 4)Current mechanism are optimally designed 5)Evolutionary theory implies a motivation to maximize gene reproduction.
(p.s. It is only one part of the research â€“ A Defense of Evolutionary Psychology. So you do need to give me a general introduction, such is what is evolutionary psychology?)
This paper focuses on the Misunderstanding 4) Current mechanism are optimally designed. This misunderstanding comes from the optimality principle â€“ the principle that evolution produces optimal design.
(The principle comes from Cosmides & Tobby’s optimality argument that focuses on the notion of an adaptive problem -which they define as evolutionary recurrent problem whose solution promoted reproduction, however long or indirect the chain by which it did so .) And it will proceed to define what the optimality argument really meant in the field of evolutionary psychology, and present some of arguments that the optimality principle does not means that current mechanism are optimally designed.
*According to Buss (1999) , although the concept of adaptation (the notion that mechanisms have evolved functions) has led to many outstanding discoveries over the past century, this does not mean that the current collection of adaptive mechanisms that make up humans in any way optimally designed . He argued that there are two main reason why adaptations are not optimally designed.
1) evolutionary time lags. The lag in between the environment that fashioned our mechanisms
(the hunter-gatherer past that created much of our selective environment) and today’s environment means that our existing evolved mechanisms are not optimally designed for the current mechanism.
)2) costs of adaptations. All adaptations carry costs. Selection favours a mechanism when the benefits outweigh the costs relative to other designs. Thus we have a collection of evolved mechanisms that are reasonably good at solving adaptive problems efficiently but are not designed as optimally as they might be if costs were not as constraint.
Buss, D. (1999). Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of The Mind, Allby& Bacon.
Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J. (1987) From evolution to behaviour: evolutionary psychology as the missing link, In The latest on the Best: Essay on Evolution and Optimality, Ed Dupre, MIT Press.
Samuel, R. (1998). Evolutionary Psychology and the Massive Modularity Hypothesis. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 49, 4, pp. 575-602.