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On Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 8:54 AM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> In other words, many left critics of EP are strict social/cultural
> determinists and I don't think that viewpoint fits the evidence either. We
> see that viewpoint on this list when any and all attempts to understand the
> biological basis of behavior are automatically mocked and dismissed often
> without taking a serious look at the study in question ("another attempt
> to..." is a common beginning of such posts here.)


I think Jon Beckwith is right that given the sorry history of these ideas,
it is perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of the flavor of the day. The
burden of proof is on those who think these hypotheses should be taken
seriously. But do name names Michael, and provide some evidence for your
claims.


> Dawkins himself has stated many times that just because there is a
> biological basis for certain behaviors does not mean they can be excused or
> accepted, because we are social creatures capable of inhibiting,  modifying,
> and perhaps most importantly reinterpreting biological "drives" (and I don't
> mean in the Freudian sense.)


This is standard boilerplate from Pinker, Dawkins, etc., but unless we think
that free will is some kind of deus ex machina, how does it coherently fit
with anything else they say without undermining their whole approach? Apart
from the occasional throw away line, Dawkins et al. have never attempted to
theorize this claim, and I don't think they can without throwing out much
else of what they say.

--PG