SOC 240 Social Problems Spring 2001 Brewer

Discussion and homework questions for weeks 1-3

For each reading assignment, please write a paragraph in response to those questions with an asterisk (*). Turn in your paragraph at the beginning of class on the day we discuss that reading assignment. Your homework should be typed or legibly handwritten. Make sure you put your name, date, and the reading assignment on your homework. Each assignment is due at the beginning of class.

Fleisher, pp. 3-14 & ch. 1 (due Monday, Feb. 12):

(Note the glossary for street terms that begins on p. 287).

1) Briefly describe the ways Fleisher gained access to street criminals. How did he find and meet them?

*2) How did Fleisher try to verify or validate what his interviewees told him?

Dietrich (due Wednesday, Feb. 14)

*1) Is evolution a fact or a theory? Explain.

2) Why doesn't creationism qualify as a scientific theory?

Buss (due Wednesday, Feb. 14)

1) Buss notes that there are really only two other processes aside from evolution that could account for the rise of organisms with complex psychological mechanisms on Earth. What are they?

2) Did Darwin discover evolution?

3) What are the three key components of the theory of natural selection?

4) What are the two main problems that adaptations address?

5) How does Hamilton's inclusive fitness theory add to Darwin's formulation of evolutionary theory?

6) Describe Williams' criteria for determining when the notion of adaptation should be invoked.

*7) What is genetic determinism?  Why doesn't evolutionary theory imply genetic determinism?

8) Are evolutionary adaptations immutable or unchangeable? Can we change them through intervention? Explain.

9) Are individuals walking inclusive fitness calculators? Why or why not?

*10) Does evolutionary theory mean that current adaptations are optimally designed? Why or why not?

11) Why doesn't evolutionary theory imply that people are consciously trying to spread their genes as widely as possible?

de Waal (due Wednesday, Feb. 21)

*1) de Waal notes various ideological reasons (apart from religious ones) why many have resisted evolutionary thought. Describe one of these reasons.

*2) Describe your opinion of evolutionary theory (especially as applied to human behavior) based on what you've learned so far about it in this course. How do evolutionary ideas fit with your personal beliefs/ideology/philosophy? (There are no wrong answers to these questions and no penalties for what your opinion is--but you do need to answer the questions adequately).