Sociological and Evolutionary Theories (part 1)

"Science is built with facts as a house is with stones--but a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house."

- Jules Henry Poincare

Major Sociological Theories

Conflict theory - focuses on groups (or categories of people) competing for power or limited resources

critique: Functionalism - focuses on survival needs of society, smooth functioning, society as a system critique:

standard social science model (Cosmides & Tooby)

Evolutionary Theory

"The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America doesn't have an official position on creation vs. evolution, but we subscribe to the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, so we believe God create the universe and all that is therein, only not necessarily in six 24-hour days, and that he may have actually have used evolution in the process of creation." (ELCA web page)

"Our Lutheran roots compel us to search for the truth . Prepare to be boldly challenged and gently encouraged to join us in the search for the truth." (PLU web page)

Why evolution in this class?

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

- Theodosius Dobzhansky

points for discussion:

"Psychology underlies culture and society, and biological evolution underlies psychology"

- Jerome Barkow

We are living fossils!



Sociological and Evolutionary Theories (part 2)

for discussion:

other types of selection

sexual selection - evolution through:

1) besting same sex competitors

2) being preferentially chosen as a mate by opposite sex kin selection - evolution through favoring closer vs. distant kin

More on adaptations

point for discussion:

 similar adaptations across species imply:

Role of environment, situation, and context in expression of psychological adaptations:

1) historical environment led to adaptations

2) ontogenetic, or developmental, context influences when adaptations kick in

3) immediate situational context determines when many mechanisms come online

Proximate vs. ultimate explanations

Testing evolutionary theory

We'll focus on universal psychological adaptations - "human nature," not behavioral genetics (links between genes and individual differences in adaptations)

Evolution and free will

Naturalistic fallacy - determining what "ought" to be by observing what "is"