Evolutionary psychology takes a knock

look_up.jpgScientic American has an interview online with philosopher David J. Buller who attacks current research in evolutionary psychology.

Buller has recently written a critical book on the subject, Adapting Minds, that analyses much of the evidence on which evolutionary theories of the mind are based, and finds many of them lacking.

His interview tackles many of his concerns in this area, and outlines his main objections to the core theories in evolutionary psychology.

There are three foundational claims that it makes. One is that the nature of [evolutionary] adaptation is going to create massive modularity in the mind–separate mental organs functionally specialized for separate tasks. Second, that those modules continue to be adapted to a hunter-gatherer way of life. And third, that these modules are universal and define a universal human nature. I think that all three of those claims are deeply problematic.

If anything the evidence indicates that the great cognitive achievement in human evolution was cortical plasticity, which allows for rapidly adaptive changes to the environment, both across evolutionary time and [across] individual lifetimes. Because of that, we’re not quite the Pleistocene relics that Evolutionary Psychology claims.

Link to David J. Buller interview in Scientific American.
Link to information and reviews of the book Adapting Minds.

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