I'm not sure what names Phil wants me to name, but if he is referring to
mocking dismissals of biological papers on this list he need only consult
the archives. I do recall one particularly interesting (to me anyway)
exchange with Maurice a while back about a paper that was very carefully

I think that "free will" is the wrong concept to be discussing here. A
better one is that humans make choices between alternative course of action,
and those choices may well represent in some cases a certain balancing of
cultural/social versus biological factors. The decision whether to make war
or peace could be looked at this way, because aggression is a biological
phenomenon which is known in many, many animals (even some plants!) but
humans channel it in cultural ways.

I think that Phil would be better at discussing these issues if he tried to
be less of an ideologue and more of a truth seeker...


On Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 5:06 PM, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email:           [log in to unmask]

Balter's Blog: