American Legal History
Note: This project is suspended. See ElliottEssay.

A Second Work in Progress

As part of my writing credit, I critique "Why evolutionary biology is (so far) irrelevant to legal regulation" by Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg.

  • Owen Jones has made bad arguments. And he has certainly exaggerated the state and applicability of evolutionary social science to law.
  • It is obvious that there is no rape gene. Rape is a product of many genes and drives. But it is unquestioned that men are more aggressive in short-term mating strategies than women.
  • The author misunderstands scientific reductionism (See elster 2007, conclusion)
  • Legal and scientific standards of evidence are different.
  • The stepparents argument is a strong one. But it probably doesn't justify statutory revision. Here is a case where it could be helpful, however. Consider the death of a baby from shaking. A parent and a stepparent could be responsible, and both accuse the other. It would be sensible to allow an expert witness to testify why evolutionary psychology makes it more likely that the stepparent was the murderer.
  • (rebuttal to all of coyne's criticisms)
    • there are many categories of behavior that have been illuminated by this approach, including perception (Jackson and Cormack, 2008), mating (Apicella and Marlowe, 2007), parenting (Lawson and Mace, 2009), cooperation (Prader, Euler, and Fetchenhauer, 2009), aggression (Navarrete et al., 2009), even religion (Johnson, 2005) as well as other aspects of culture (Fincher, Thornhill, Murray, and Schaller, 2008)
    • it is important to note that evolutionary psychology is not falsifiable, because it is not a theory. Rather, it is an approach to understanding psychology and behavior that is informed by evolutionary theory (292)

-- ElliottAsh - 05 Jan 2010



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r3 - 07 Sep 2011 - 00:10:45 - IanSullivan
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