Why you guys sit on your butt, the Darwinian fallacies go on and on.
Human Nature Review 2003 Volume 3: 98-99 ( 28 January )
URL of this document http://human-nature.com/nibbs/03/dlsmith.html
Darwinian Politics. The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom.
By Paul H. Rubin
New Brunswick, New Jersey, & London. Rutgers University Press. 2002. 240 pp.
Reviewed by David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D., Director, New England Institute for
Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, University of New England,
Westbrook College Campus, 716 Stevens Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103, USA.
Paul Rubin, Professor of Economics and Law at Emory University, has written a
detailed, informationally dense discussion of the evolutionary roots of
political preferences. In my view, Rubin provides an excellent survey of a
variety of issues relevant to understanding politics as an outgrowth of evolved
propensities dating back to the EEA (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness).
It is a detailed and systematic work, with a strong leaning towards political
economics. Stylistically, Rubin's writing is reminiscent of that of Richard
Alexander: precise, scholarly and thoughtful with no fluff. Darwinian Politics
repays close, careful reading. In fact, Darwinian Politics is so rich in
content that it defies summary. Although I am an avid reader of the literature
on human sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, this slender volume
introduced me to literatures that I was not aware existed, and surprised me by
approaching familiar concepts in novel and exciting ways.
The first chapter introduces various elements of evolutionary thinking that are
relevant to an analysis of political preferences and behavior, most of which
will be familiar to readers of this review. There is a particularly good
discussion of why evolution does not make us all identical, making use of the
hawk-dove game, and the concept of frequency-dependent behavior. The first
chapter also introduces a central strand of Rubin's argument: although modern
economies involve positive-sum games (games in which the gains of all the
players are greater than the losses), we evolved in circumstances where the
economy was zero-sum (the gains and losses of all players add to zero, i.e., my
gain is your loss). As a result, we tend to regard mutually beneficial trade
(positive-sum) as a competitive enterprise (zero-sum) a disposition which, in
the case of international trade, also receives contributions from our
'xenophobic modules' with unfortunate results, an approach used to good effect
in a critique of Kevin MacDonald's account of anti-Semitism in Chapter Two.
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Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom (Rutgers Series on Human
by Paul H. Rubin
Paperback: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 9.38 x 5.88
Publisher: Rutgers University Press; ; (August 2002) ISBN: 0813530962
AMAZON - US
AMAZON - UK
From the Back Cover
Darwinian Politics is the first book to examine political behavior from a
modern evolutionary perspective. Here, Paul H. Rubin discusses group or social
behavior, including ethnic and racial conflict; altruism and cooperation; envy;
political power; and the role of religion in politics ? issues that have formed
the hallmark of human social behavior.
Adopting a Darwinian perspective, Rubin demonstrates why certain
political-moral philosophies succeed or fail in modern Western culture. He
begins by showing relationships between biology and natural selection and the
history of political philosophy and explains why desirable policies must treat
each person as an individual. He considers the notion of group identity and
conflict, observing a human propensity to form in-groups, a behavior that does
not necessitate but often leads to deviancies such as racism. In discussing
altruism, Rubin shows that people are willing to aid the poor if they are
convinced that the recipients are not shirkers or free loaders. This explains
why recent welfare reforms are widely viewed as successful. Envy, a trait that
is often counterproductive in today's world, is also addressed. In comparing
major moral philosophical systems, Rubin contends that utilitarianism is
broadly consistent with our evolved preferences. He illustrates evolutionary
premises for religious belief and for desires to regulate the behavior of
others, and how in today's world such regulation may not serve any useful
Ultimately, Rubin argues that humans naturally seek political freedom, and
modern Western society provides more freedom than any previous one. In light of
his analysis, the author extrapolates that, while there are still areas for
improvements, humans have done a remarkably good job of satisfying their
evolved political preferences.
About the Author
Paul H. Rubin is a professor of economics and law at Emory University. He is
the author of Managing Business Transactions: Controlling the Costs of
Coordinating, Communicating, and Decision Making, and Promises, Promises:
Contracts in Russia and Other Post-Communist Economies.
World History and the Eonic Effect