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Author Mutschelknaus, Sarah
Title A critique of evolutionary psychology: Social, theoretical, and methodological concerns
book jacket
Descript 140 p
Note Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 49-06, page: 3569
Adviser: Doren Recker
Thesis (M.A.)--Oklahoma State University, 2011
Findings and Conclusions: This thesis critically examines the research program of evolutionary psychology and the tension between evolutionary psychology and feminism. Feminists tend to be wary of claims made by evolutionary psychologists about men and women having biologically different psychologies and behavioral tendencies, and many evolutionary psychologists have dismissed feminist concerns out of hand. In this thesis I argue that feminists have good reason to be concerned, considering the role biological difference claims have played in the oppression of women and minorities throughout history. I also argue that when dealing with politically charged biological claims a high standard of evidence is necessary. Furthermore, I argue the research program of evolutionary psychology seems seriously flawed, not holding to a rigorous standard of evidence. The research method of evolutionary psychologists is one of reverse engineering. They maintain that the brain is massively modular, composed of hundreds of functionally specific modules or psychological traits. As adaptationists they claim that these modules are adaptations, selected for by natural selection to solve problems faced during the Pleistocene era. Thus, evolutionary psychologists reverse engineer these psychological traits by asking what problems these traits were designed to solve during the Pleistocene
I argue that their adaptationist view of evolution is mistaken and our knowledge of Pleistocene conditions is limited. Consequently, it is not possible to accurately reverse engineer psychological traits. Additionally, the evidence from neurobiology strongly suggests the brain is not massively modular, but only limitedly modular. So not only do evolutionary psychologists fail to meet the rigorous standards of evidence their politically charged claims require, but their theoretical and methodological commitments contain critical flaws. Thus, the feminist concerns are legitimate and evolutionary psychology needs to be restructured, particularly so that it avoids the flaws of adaptationism and becomes grounded in the neurobiological evidence
School code: 0664
Host Item Masters Abstracts International 49-06
Subject Philosophy of Science
Women's Studies
Psychology, General
Gender Studies
Alt Author Oklahoma State University. Philosophy
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