Biology and psychology dates back to Darwin.

“There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties” -Darwin


Psychoneural monism –mind and body are not separate entities

William James

John Watson

•Symbolized the Behaviourist approach
•Psychology should ditch its concern with unobservable entities such as minds and feelings
•Both animal and human psychology should abandon any reference to consciousness
•Stressed the importance of environmental conditioning
•Anti-evolutionary, and anti-hereditarian
•Most famous for his extreme statements of “environmentalism


William James


•Looked to animals for the instinctive roots of human behavior and morality

  • Morality was a product of heredity

•Ascribed many instincts to humans

•Instincts could be modified by experience

Francis Galton and the Eugenics Movement

•Associated the ideas of heredity and instinct with dangerous political thought •Care for the sick and needy led to the procreation of the “less fit”
•Could lead to the deterioration of the “national character”
•State should intervene to modify human mating choices

•Those with heritable disorders or the “constitutionally feeble”, should be discouraged from breeding

•Coined the term eugenics – meaning “well born”
•Led to compulsory sterilizations and restriction of immigration in the U.S. •Eugenics used as a basic principle during the Nazi era


Evolutionary Psychology VS. Human Behavioral Ecology/Sociobiology (Darwinian Anthropology)


What is the Modular Brain concept?

  • Different components of the brain deal with different specific functions
  • Vision, hearing, talking


Evolutionary Psychology model

  • The mechanisms of the mind evolved over millions of years to meet persistent adaptive problems in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA). Mechanisms sculpted during the past will not necessarily appear adaptive today (stone age minds in modern skulls).
  • Brains solve adaptive problems through the construction of a set of discrete and functionally specialized problem-solving modules known as domain-specific mental modules. The analogy of The “Swiss Army Knife” model of the mind.
  • Human beings have an essential universal structure that is both physical and mental. (limited genetic variability)


The “Specialized Mentality” Model of the Mind

The mind is an organ that has been shaped by natural selection.

The mind consists of multiple, content-rich, Domain-specific mental modules

Narrow slices of environmental information are processed by specific modules, & modules deal with specific adaptive problems.

Evolution favored a highly specialized mind to Meet the challenges presented by the physical & Social world.

Survival was too precious to be trusted to “Consciousnes”sand trial-and-error general learning

Domains of the Mind

* General-Purpose learning * Language

* Social Intelligence
* Technical Intelligence

* Natural History Intelligence


Problems with the Evolutionary Psychology approach;

  • The nature of the EEA: Was there a single environment that shaped the human brain and what were it’s features?
  • Domain specificity: Must problem-solving modules be domain specific? Might there not be room for cognitive processes that can be brought to bear on a range of adaptive problems? Might not domain-general processes also have some evolutionary plausibility?
  • Correspondence with neurophysiological structures: What is the relationship between domain-specific modules and brain structure? Not simple mapping.
  • All behavior driven by mental/cognitive processes?: Might not a physiological system suffice? An organ like the heart solves a lot of problems (pumping rates, pressure, etc.) without using cognition.
  • Genetic variation: EP’s assume the world is composed of humans with an essentially similar genetic make-up in which differences are not a significant part of the adaptationist paradigm.

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