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Why We Disagree About Human Nature$
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Elizabeth Hannon and Tim Lewens

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823650.001.0001

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The Use and Non-Use of the Human Nature Concept by Evolutionary Biologists

The Use and Non-Use of the Human Nature Concept by Evolutionary Biologists

(p.145) 8 The Use and Non-Use of the Human Nature Concept by Evolutionary Biologists
Why We Disagree About Human Nature

Peter J. Richerson

Oxford University Press

A number of prominent modern evolutionists embraced ‘human nature’, signalling their commitment to the Modern Synthesis. Their claim is that for most of our evolutionary history, culture was of little importance, and that genes, not culture, controlled early development. More recently, cultural evolutionists have argued that culture and reason were present deep in the Homo lineage, and that the ability to learn socially develops in the first year of life. Thus, it is reasonable to think that genes and culture coevolved in the evolutionary past, and that they codevelop in infancy and childhood. Human nature theorists seek to deny this claim, while at the same time trying in various ways to make room for human culture and reason. I argue here that they are unsuccessful in their attempts.

Keywords:   Modern Synthesis, culture, reason, gene–culture coevolution, gene–culture codevelopment

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