Mechanisms of sexual egalitarianism in Western Europe

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This paper presents historical evidence on marriage patterns in ancient Sparta, Rome, Early Christianity, and the Early Middle Ages. Monogamy occurred in all of these societies but there is a great deal of diversity in origin and function of monogamous mating arrangements. In the case of Sparta, monogamy arose as part of an intensively egalitarian, racially homogenous social structure which fostered intense cooperation and altruism within the group. In the case of Rome monogamy coexisted with pronounced social, political, and economic inequalities, and there was much more ethnic diversity at Rome than at Sparta. The case of early Christianity involved the spread of a more radical ideology of monogamy and sexual restraint among the lower and middle classes of the Roman Empire, but the crucial event in the Christianization of the West was the apparently chance conversion of a single powerful individual, the Emperor Constantine. In the case of the Christianization of barbarian Europe, the movement was spearheaded by a powerful institution and the acceptance among the aristocracy of Christian ideology. The revolution thus proceeded from the top of the society downward. These findings are related to a model of cultural evolution that emphasizes the irreducibility of social controls and ideology in maintaining egalitarian mating practices.

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... Masters (1989) shows that while military conquest may be responsible for the emergence of very large states, stratified state societies developed as a result of socioeconomic change prior to military conflict. Moreover, SIM apparently originated not in large empires but in small city-states (Herlihy 1991;MacDonald 1990), so SIM cannot be seen as an outcome of conflict between ever larger groups. Indeed, the vast majority of traditional stratified societies were in fact highly polygynous, and they often covered vast areas with very large populations (Betzig, 1986;Dickemann, 1979;van den Berghe, 1979). ...
... No historical data are provided which indicate that SIM developed as a result of bargaining processes centering around the need for specialized, irreplaceable labor or that SIM originated with the recent rise of industrialization. In the following, data will be presented indicating that SIM developed far earlier than the industrial revolution and has been maintained by several different processes (see also MacDonald, 1983MacDonald, , 1990). ...
... Variables important for the establishment and maintenance of SIM. It is a major advantage of the present approach that it is able to accommodate a wide variety of internal political processes leading to SIM (see MacDonald, 1990). Specifically, there appear to be five qualitatively different mechanisms which are theoretically plausible candidates as influences on the development and/or maintenance of SIM: 1.) ...
Although stratified societies have typically been characterized by intensive polygyny, socially imposed monogamy has developed in the stratified societies of Western Europe. Following a critical review of other theories of socially imposed monogamy, a multivariate, non-deterministic theory is developed. Within this theory a variety of internal political processes can result in socially imposed monogamy, but socially imposed monogamy, while consistent with evolutionary theory, is underdetermined with respect to 1.) evolutionary theory; 2.) human nature/nurture (i. e., the characteristics of humans); or 3.) external ecological variables. Data on the origins and maintenance of socially imposed monogamy in Western Europe are reviewed indicating that post-antiquity socially imposed monogamy originated in the late Middle Ages and has been maintained by a variety of social controls and ideologies since that period, including political activities of the Christian Church, and, in later periods, women and lower and middle status males. As a result of institutionalized controls on reproduction, non-monogamous Western sexuality has been directed at obtaining psychological rewards deriving from evolved motivational systems (e. g., sexual pleasure, excitement, feelings of dominance, status, or intimacy) but this non-monogamous sexuality has not typically been a major source of increased reproductive success.
... Thus, large industrialized states impose monogamy-a restriction imposed on the elite, in the interests of the masses. The imposition of monogamy is likely to be accompanied by other concessions, such as increasingly broad-based political participation (Betzig, 1986;Kanazawa & Still 1999;MacDonald, 1990;Price, 1999). The elite are motivated to make these concessions by their desire to strengthen the state when struggling for survival in war with other states (Alexander et al., 1979;Henrich et al., 2012). ...
... The elite concession view has been criticized for ignoring the roots of SIM in the institutions of Greece, Rome, and medieval Christianity (Price, 1999). MacDonald (1990) examines SIM and concludes that it is simply not adaptive. He attributes the imposition of monogamy in modern states to the chance conversion of Constantine to Christianity, and the subsequent diffusion of Christian rules of marriage throughout the Roman cultural region (Price, 1999). ...
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Multiple proposed determinants of the long-term historical shift in marriage preference from polygynous to monogamous unions are tested simultaneously using data on a worldwide sample of 186 pre-industrial societies. Since the diffusion of monogamy though conquest and population migration is well documented, we employ network autocorrelation regression models that include the cultural transmission of monogamy as an endogenous predictor variable. Linguistic and spatial transmission processes are found to be significant factors that jointly affect the world-wide variance of monogamy, while religious transmission processes are not significant, suggesting genomic variation may play a role in shaping the incidence of monogamy. Other significant factors are reduction of extrinsic risks due to pathogen stress and endemic violence, a highly articulated extra-household division of labor, and a beneficent environment, results which are consistent with female choice as a binding constraint in marriage decisions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
... Western thinkers have favoured monogamy over polygamy (MacDonald 1990;1995). However, efforts to track the origins of the former run afoul of the wide range of quasi-marital and cognate structures that have developed and disappeared throughout history (Scheidel 2012). ...
Polygamy – a type of relationship where a person marries more than one partner - is one of the most divisive issues within modern Italian society. Yet, the international literature remains mostly silent on Italian citizens’ reasons against and for it. The present paper fills such a gap by highlighting the narratives of 22 individuals aged between their late-20s and mid-50s. Results show that most participants believe there is a troubling correlation between polygamy and harm to women and children. Slippery slope objections were commonplace in all the discussions. For instance, many respondents asserted that the practice leads to the most radical transformation of the notion of marriage and by consequence, of the family. Others felt it increases the likelihood that unmarried men resort to crime as a means to gain material and symbolic resources such as partners and status. Notably, these perspectives may be expected to mirror those of society at large. Future research should demonstrate whether balance can be struck between the measures required by Italian law to protect people from violence, and preserving the right to marry. However, scholars must avoid playing into the mainstream narrative that polygamy is inherently adversarial to Western values.
... In making these claims, Henrich relied primarily on two articles by Kevin MacDonald (1990MacDonald ( , 1995, referencing him a total of 7 times. Why did Henrich abandon this earlier view to argue that monogamy was created "inadvertently" by a Church obsessed with the natural sexual drives of humans? ...
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This essay acknowledges Joseph Henrich's landmark analysis of how medieval Europeans were already psychologically distinct from the kinship-oriented peoples of other civilizations long before the rise of modern science and liberal thought. It then shows that Europeans already exhibited WEIRD psychological traits in ancient Greek times, along with monogamous nuclear families, civic citizenship, and a relatively high level of literacy long before the Protestant emphasis on reading. The early Christians of the Hellenistic period were already advocating a WEIRD sexual morality before the Catholic Church intentionally-not "unintentionally"-abolished the polygamous kinship norms of early medieval Germanic peoples. The creation of nation-states in the modern era was an alternative form of community created by WEIRD Europeans consistent (in principle) with their liberal values. Despite his emphasis on "cultural evolution", Henrich misses the extent to which Europeans were the most creative cultural species in history.
... A successful marriage required one man (bread winner) and one woman (caregiver) to successfully raise children, with each was entirely dependent on the other. MacDonald (1990) and Herlihy (1995) have studied the history of socially imposed monogamy and found that its appearance and spread was contextually and historically dependent. The first evidence of it is the early city states of Greece. ...
Conference Paper
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In pre-modern societies, rulers were able to translate political power into wealth and wealth into additional wives and children. In most modern societies, especially Western societies, plural marriages are either prohibited or very uncommon, although a minority of societies, found mostly in the Middle East and in sub-Saharan Africa, still approve of plural marriages. Among high ranking political officials generally, however, such marriages are uncommon. Thus, the translation of political power into personal reproduction is far less common in modern than in pre-modern societies. This paper examines several factors in modern societies, including democracy, that have weakened the relationship between political power and reproductive success.
... Angeregt durch diese Fragen wurde seit Anfang der achtziger Jahre an empirischen Studien zur Überprüfung der aufgestellten Hypothesen mit historischem und ethnologischem Datenmaterial gearbeitet (Alexander, 1979;Betzig, 1986Betzig, , 1995Boone, 1983Boone, , 1986Chagnon & Irons, 1979;Dickemann, 1979;Thornhill, 1992;Turke, 1990). Die Ergebnisse waren für traditionale (auch historische) Gesellschaften durchaus valide, vermochten aber nicht die Entwicklung des Reproduktionsverhaltens seit der demographischen Transition zu erklären (Borgerhoff Mulder, 1998;MacDonald, 1990MacDonald, , 1995. Obwohl die These von der jederzeit optimalen Anpassung von Kultur an den genetischen Imperativ der Fitnessmaximierung bei gegebener Umwelt heute wohl als widerlegt gelten kann, haben die Untersuchungen der DH doch das bleibende Verdienst, die hohe Anpassungsleistung von verschie-denen traditionalen Kulturen sowie die sehr "natürlichen" Zusammenhänge zwischen Paarungssystem und politischem System beim Menschen aufgezeigt zu haben. ...
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Dieser Beitrag stellt die vergleichsweise junge Disziplin der „evolutionären Geschichtswissenschaft“ und insbesondere den Ansatz einer evolutionär inspirierten Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte vor, die sich auf der Basis einer erweiterten synthetischen Evolutionstheorie sowie einer anthropologisch interessierten Geschichtswissenschaft um die Erklärung historischen Verhaltens bemüht. Evolutionäre Geschichtswissenschaft (EG) speist sich aus dem Bestreben von Biologen, Anthropologen und (wenigen) Historikern, menschliches Verhalten in historischer Zeit in einen naturalistischen Rahmen zu stellen, ohne dabei die speziellen Eigenschaften menschlicher Kultur aus dem Blick zu verlieren. Anhand von zwei Beispielen werden die Anwendung und der mögliche Nutzen einer evolutionären Geschichtswissenschaften für das Verständnis von Kultur und Verhalten in geschichtlicher Zeit vorgestellt. Den Abschluss bilden einige methodische Reflexionen über die Probleme eines solchen Ansatzes in den beteiligten Fachdisziplinen.
... Die leitende Frage, die sich aus der damals noch jungen Forschungsrichtung hinsichtlich der beziehung zwischen natur und Kultur ergab, lautete: bis zu welchem Grad kann in einem szenario permanenter anpassungsoptimierung Verhalten verstanden und erklärt werden aus dem bewussten oder unbewussten "bestreben" von individuen, ihre reproduktion zu maximieren und so ihre genetische information als träger dieser anpassungsinformationen an die kommende Generation weiterzugeben? angeregt durch diese Fragen wurde seit anfang der achtziger Jahre an empirischen studien zur Überprüfung der aufgestellten hypothesen mit historischem und ethnologischem Datenmaterial gearbeitet (alexander, 1979;betzig, 1986boone, 1983, 1986chagnon & irons, 1979;Dickemann, 1979;thornhill, 1992;turke, 1990). Die ergebnisse waren für traditionale (auch historische) Gesellschaften durchaus valide, vermochten aber nicht die entwicklung des reproduktionsverhaltens seit der demographischen transition zu erklären (borgerhoff Mulder, 1998;MacDonald, 1990MacDonald, , 1995. Obwohl die these von der jederzeit optimalen anpassung von Kultur an den genetischen imperativ der Fitnessmaximierung bei gegebener umwelt heute wohl als widerlegt gelten kann, haben die untersuchungen der Dh doch das bleibende Verdienst, die hohe anpassungsleistung von verschie-denen traditionalen Kulturen sowie die sehr "natürlichen" Zusammenhänge zwischen Paarungssystem und politischem system beim Menschen aufgezeigt zu haben. ...
... There is reason to suppose the existence of such nonevolved motive dispositions and to suppose that they can successfully compete with evolved motive dispositions. Richerson and Boyd (1989) have argued that personal ideologies and any associated behavior can depart radically from that predicted by an optimality model, and in previous work I have emphasized that personal ideologies are irreducible to evolved psychological traits of individuals, are underdetermined by biological theory, and interact with but are independent of social controls on individual behavior (MacDonald, 1983MacDonald, , 1988MacDonald, , 1990, in press). Thus individual males and even entire cultures have adopted ideologies of male sexual restraint despite the apparent existence of evolved adaptations toward male sexual promiscuity and despite the fact that such behavior is not optimal for wealthy males. ...
Following areview of evolutionary approaches to the five-factor model (FEM), I develop a synthetic perspective that incorporates three levels of analysis: personality systems as universal psychological mechanisms, systematic group (i.e., gender, birth order, age, ethnic) differences that can be illuminated by evolutionary theory, and individual differences. At the level of universal mechanisms, personality systems are species-typical systems with adaptive functions in the human environment of evolutionary adaptedness. At the level of group differences, the evolutionary theory of sex, parent-offspring conflict theory, and life history are used to analyze sex, age, and ethnic differences in personality systems. At the level of individual differences, variation in personality consists of a range of viable evolutionary strategies for humans. Humans evaluate and act on the genetic and phenotypic diversity represented by this range of viable strategies to solve adaptive problems. Evolutionary perspectives on cross-cultural variation are noted and illustrated.
... He argues that monogamous mating is evolutionarily superior to polygyny when considering altruism among children. MacDonald (1990), Betzig (1986) and Alexander (1987) argue that this phenomenon is the result of egalitarianism or the need for cohesion in democratic-industrialized countries where the division of labor or the 'rule of law' is prominent. In a recent paper, Lagerlof (2010) extends and formalizes ideas discussed in Alexander (1987). ...
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This paper offers a simple theory that explains why polygyny marriage has almost disappeared in modern industrialized countries although it had been common in most of the societies throughout history. I demonstrate that the increase in labor income through the process of economic development has led to the rise of monogamy. Specifically, I show in a general equilibrium model of marriage market that the increase in labor income improves women's outside option, monogamy mating. This, in turn, reduces polygyny by increasing the cost of polygyny mating for men. This theory is the first one to explain the phenomenon with emphasizing cost-side changes and complements previous demand-side theories. Moreover, the theory points to a supply-side mechanism of the negative correlation between the quantity and quality of children.
... Earlier theories of marriage institution (Alexander 1987;Alexander et al. 1979;Betzig 1986;MacDonald 1990) assume that men's preferences and choices create a particular institution and impose it on women. Kanazawa and Still (1999) first point out that mating is a female choice in every species in which the female makes greater parental investment in the offspring than the male (including humans), and then propose a theory that assumes that a particular institution of marriage spontaneously emerges out of thousands or millions of independent decisions women make. ...
While rational choice theorists have made great advances in their study of institutions and structures (and how they affect behavior), they have made less progress toward understanding the origins of values. I propose that the emerging field of evolutionary psychology complements rational choice theory by providing a theory of values, and that current explanations of values and preferences, such as learning, norms, and identities, are all compatible with evolutionary psychology, which provides more ultimate explanations for these proximate causes of behavior. The incorporation of evolutionary psychology into rational choice theory can also solve some of the persistent puzzles of rational choice theory: Why do so many players in Prisoner's Dilemma games make the irrational choice to cooperate? Why do people participate in collective action? Why do people sometimes behave "irrationally" by acting on their emotions? Why does rational choice theory appear to be more applicable to men than to women?
... Kanazawa and Still base their interpretation of my views on my 1990 article (MacDonald 1990). This articledoes indeed argue that monogamy was an important aspect of the extreme economic, political and social egalitarianism characteristic of Sparta, but in the case of Rome I argue that the historical record is too obscure to come to any firm conclusion on the origin of monogamy, although it is indeed possible that egalitarianism among males played an important role in the early Republic. ...
In their article "Why monogamy?" Kanazawa and Still (1999) misrepresent my theory of monogamy as based on egalitarianism among males. I find that a variety of different interests at play in the development of mating systems and that monogamy is a complex, historically conditioned outcome of these differing interests. Because there are no powerful, theoretically-based reasons that specify the conditions under which monogamy is expected to occur, we must examine the detailed historical record for each documented case. I have found that egalitarian striving among males is only one mechanism in the development of monogamy in Western Europe. Other mechanisms include the efforts of some classes of women and a top-down mechanism in which the Catholic Church played a central role in the development of monogamy in the late Middle Ages.
The study examined the peoples’ perception of polygyny in Contemporary Times in Nigeria. The study sought to identify the factors that have led to peoples change of attitudes about polygyny in general as well as their perceived advantages and disadvantages of polygyny. The data were collected using qualitative methodologies consisting of in-depth interviews and Focus group discussions. In all, 2000 respondents were used for the study. The respondents were selected using multiple sampling techniques comprising f (i) Stratified random sampling (ii) Quota sampling and (iii) systematic sampling techniques. The data were analyzed by the use of frequency tables, simple percentage and Z – Y index analysis method. The study revealed that, there has been a change in people’s attitudes towards the practice of polygyny. As high as 79.8% of women in our sample desire that polygyny be eradicated while 51.2% of the men will support legislation against the practice. Again a greater percentage of the women are against polygyny than the men.
Was polygyny stopped by the Christian Church? Probably not. In the Middle Ages, as in other ages, powerful men married monogamously, but mated polygynously. Both laymen and church men tended to have sexual access to as many women as they could afford. But first-born sons were allowed a legitimate wife, on whom they got legitimate heirs. And latter-born sons were often celibate—that is, ineligible to sire heirs, though not chaste—that is, ineligible to sire bastards. Church men, like laymen, sought wealth to provide for their women and children. To get it, church men used canon law. Authorities like Gratian and Lombard insisted that “mutual consent” made a marriage. That undercut parents' ability to impose celibacy. And church bans against incest, divorce and remarriage, concubinage, wet nursing, and maybe even incontinence kept laymen from rearing heirs. That let the men who filled the monasteries come into their fathers' estates by default. In short, both church men and laymen practiced polygynous mating. At the same time, both approved of monogamous marriage. There was no conflict in either case. The conflict came when they tried to sow their seeds on the same finite plot. Neither wanted to get cut out of an inheritance.
Biographical data were collected on members of the U.S. executive, legislative, and judicial branches, in George Washington's first through Ronald Reagan's last administration, from Who Was Who in America, the Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress, Vice Presidents and Cabinet Members, and Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America. They suggest that serial polygyny in this sample has declined over the last two hundred years. Census data on average American men suggest that the number of wives per man has stayed the same or increased at the same time. These trends imply that mating equality may have increased over the last two centuries of American history. What sketchy evidence exists on extramarital opportunities tentatively suggests a similar trend.
Capitalizing on the rich historical record of late antiquity, and employing sophisticated methodologies from social and economic history, this book reinterprets the end of Roman slavery. Kyle Harper challenges traditional interpretations of a transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, arguing instead that a deep divide runs through 'late antiquity', separating the Roman slave system from its early medieval successors. In the process, he covers the economic, social and institutional dimensions of ancient slavery and presents the most comprehensive analytical treatment of a pre-modern slave system now available. By scouring the late antique record, he has uncovered a wealth of new material, providing fresh insights into the ancient slave system, including slavery's role in agriculture and textile production, its relation to sexual exploitation, and the dynamics of social honor. By demonstrating the vitality of slavery into the fourth century, the author shows that Christianity triumphed amidst a genuine slave society.
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In a thought-provoking appraisal of the state of macrosociological theory, Gerhard Lenski argues that its shortcomings can be rectified, in part, by reference to nomological reasoning. Moreover, developments in behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, and population genetics offer interesting insights into analyses of social behavior across time and space and, in the process, reveal some useful hints about the manner in which sociocultural theorists might proceed in developing more elegant theoretical statements. With these considerations in mind, the argument elaborated in this essay suggests: (1) that contemporary sociocultural science has much to contribute to the development of a general theory of social behavior, (2) that theory refinement in the sociocultural sciences can be enhanced significantly by reference to general principles (specifically, an amended version of the "maximization principle") developed in recent years in the evolutionary behavioral sciences; and (3) that reliance on such general analytical principles is enormously helpful in clarifying some seemingly troublesome theoretical problems in, for example, studies of social demography and human ecology and of social stratification and mobility.
This article analyzes the configuration of biology, anthropology, and history over the last generation by taking the sub-field of the “history of sexuality” as a case study. The history of sexuality developed at a particularly important site of engagement with neighboring disciplines. I argue that the concepts of nature and culture that came to prevail among historians of sexuality were deeply influenced by the debate between a particular strand of evolutionary biology, namely sociobiology, and its critics, who were committed to cultural hermeneutics. This debate encouraged a formulation of nature and culture which is effectively dualist and which remains present within the sub-field. By focusing the analysis on the study of ancient (classical Mediterranean) sexuality, I seek detailed insights into the reception of this debate within a specific domain of historical investigation, one whose stakes have been particularly high because of the intervention of Michel Foucault. The article closes by arguing that biologists and anthropologists in the last two decades have advanced the study of culture as a part of nature, and that historians have much to gain by engaging with more recent models. The institution of monogamy is highlighted as an emerging theme of investigation that can only be approached with the unified insights of history, anthropology, and biology.
Thesis (A.B., Honors in Philosophy)--Harvard University, 2003. Includes bibliographical references (leaves ).
One factor that makes human behavior particularly interesting in the context of a hierarchical view of selection is that humans are able to shift the balance actively in favor of either between- or within-group selection. Wilson & Sober present some direct ways of facilitating such shifts; I supplement their argument by showing that even more subtle, indirect effects can shift the balance of selection in favor of betweengroup selection.
This paper argues that Western cultures have a unique cultural profile compared to other traditional civilizations: 1. The Catholic Church and Christianity. 2. A tendency toward monogamy. 3. A tendency toward simple family structure based on the nuclear family. 4. A greater tendency for marriage to be companionate and based on mutual affection of the partners. 5. A de-emphasis on extended kinship relationships and its correlative, a relative lack of ethnocentrism. 6. A tendency toward individualism and all of its implications: individual rights against the state, representative government, moral universalism, and scienc
Vehicle based approaches to selection are alleged to be superior to replicator based approaches in that (1) they make room for the legitimacy and importance of group selection and (2) they move from metaphors to mechanisms. I point to some unclarities in Wilson and Sober's concepts of ''group'' and ''group selection'' and argue that their vehicle based approached merely replaces one set of metaphors with another.
I argue that Wilson and Sober misrepresent the group selection debate: the debate concerns whether groups are vehicles (or interactors), not whether groups are ''organisms.''
Although selection acts on vehicles, its evolutionary effect is on gene frequencies and, through these, on phenotypes. Hence, equations describing the changes of replicators have understandably dominated evolutionary theory. The effectiveness of selection at a vehicular level is measured by the gene frequency change it produces.
Group selection in humans is principally the product of competition between cultures. Cultures, however, are not directly tied to differences in inherited biological attributes. The result has been, at most, random change, unrelated to differences in adaptive biological characteristics between human groups. Culture, then, is better described as a “domain” than as a “vehicle”.
Contextual analysis is a method for statistically analyzing selection acting at multiple levels in natural populations. In addition to being a statistical procedure, it provides a conceptual shift in our understanding of selection: it becomes apparent that the mathematical equivalent of group selection is much more common than previously believed.
Two vehicles for group selection may have selected for distinctly different traits in humans. Twenty-five member hunter-gatherer groups would have selected for altruism toward known group members. Village and tribal groups (250+ persons) would have selected for outgroup competitiveness. Neither would select for altruism toward strangers.
This plausible group-selection model should aid the conceptual integration of the natural and social sciences, but testing in vertebrates is needed. The history of the vehicles-of-selection debate is compared with the controversy over the readmission of innate behavior and genetics to a respectable position in behavioral study. In the spirit of Wilson & Sober a new “commandment” for the conduct of science is proposed.
The Hutterite example shows not that humans have been group selected but rather the difficulty of getting people to act selflessly. The idea that Hutterites exemplify the human environment of evolutionary adaptedness is not supported by the ethnographic record, in which reproductive equality is rare and meiosis-like rules of group fissioning are nonexistent. We end where we began: group selection is possible but not very likely.
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In both biology and the human sciences, social groups are sometimes treated as adaptive units whose organization cannot be reduced to individual interactions. This group-level view is opposed by a more individualistic one that treats social organization as a byproduct of self-interest. According to biologists, group-level adaptations can evolve only by a process of natural selection at the group level. Most biologists rejected group selection as an important evolutionary force during the 1960s and 1970s but a positive literature began to grow during the 1970s and is rapidly expanding today. We review this recent literature and its implications for human evolutionary biology. We show that the rejection of group selection was based on a misplaced emphasis on genes as “replicators” which is in fact irrelevant to the question of whether groups can be like individuals in their functional organization. The fundamental question is whether social groups and other higher-level entities can be “vehicles” of selection. When this elementary fact is recognized, group selection emerges as an important force in nature and what seem to be competing theories, such as kin selection and reciprocity, reappear as special cases of group selection. The result is a unified theory of natural selection that operates on a nested hierarchy of units.The vehicle-based theory makes it clear that group selection is an important force to consider in human evolution. Humans can facultatively span the full range from self-interested individuals to “organs” of group-level “organisms.” Human behavior not only reflects the balance between levels of selection but it can also alter the balance through the construction of social structures that have the effect of reducing fitness differences within groups, concentrating natural selection (and functional organization) at the group level. These social structures and the cognitive abilities that produce them allow group selection to be important even among large groups of unrelated individuals.
Models of group selection are complex, awkward, and tend to be balanced on a knife edge of perilous assumptions. Sociologists and geneticists apply them to something as complex as human society at their peril. I suggest an alternative model based on the maintenance of genetic heterogeneity for behavior within groups. This can occur by means of slight behavioral alterations in the group as a whole that take place whenever one type of behavior tends to predominate.
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The controversy over group selection persists not, as Wilson & Sober argue, because biologists do not understand the hierarchy of vehicles of selection, but because we lack criteria to determine whether or not a trait arises from group selection, and have a deep wish to find a biological basis for our human moral feelings.
Wilson and Sober do not propose a new view of natural selection, but a purification and clarification of the view proclaimed by sociobiologists in the 1970s. Unfortunately, implications for understanding human social behavior remain unclear, resting more on the appearance of connections due to shared language than on knowledge of mediating processes.
One approach suggested by a reading of the target article is that we jettison entirely the notion of replicator and focus on the formation and dissolution of vehicles down through the generations.
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It is commonly assumed that competition is a theoretically necessary component of any instance of natural selection. This erroneous assumption makes it unnecessarily difficult to authenticate specific cases of group selection. With its elimination the Gaia hypothesis, for example, becomes theoretically possible.
Focusing on the Group: Further Issues Related to Western Monogamy - Volume 14 Issue 1 - Kevin MacDonald
Kanazawa and Still (1999) argue for a female choice theory of marriage practices. This theory assumes that women determine the marriage form and that they will choose polygyny when the resource inequalities among men are great and monogamy when these inequalities are relatively low. I argue that the theory is problematic for a number of reasons, most importantly because it ignores male choice. Polygyny results primarily from male rather than female choice because it flows from the male desire for sexual variety, a desire that has evolved to promote male reproductive success. As for monogamy, Richard Alexander's theory, which argues that nation-states impose monogamy on their male citizens in order to equalize their reproductive opportunities, is suggested as the best theory currently available, and empirical data are presented to support this claim.
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Five characters separate man from other hominoids-a large neocortex, bipedality, reduced anterior dentition with molar dominance, material culture, and unique sexual and reproductive behavior. Evidence provided by the fossil record, primate behavior, and demographic analysis shows that the traditional view that early human evolution was a direct consequence of brain expansion and material culture is incorrect, and that the unique sexual and reproductive behavior of man may be the sine qua non of human origin.
Historical Background Intellectual and Theological Currents
“Know yourself” is one of the most ancient of all injunctions. Although some primates possess the ability to recognize their own faces, and therefore must possess a rudimentary sense of self (Gallup, 1977), humans appear to be unique among animals in their ability to know themselves. What is the nature of this ability? How did it evolve, and why? How effective are the processes through which people acquire self-knowledge, and how valid are the story by telling its end, we will conclude that it often is maladaptive to perceive oneself accurately, that people are at least as adept at self-serving way, and that people are at least as adept at self-deception as they are at self-perception.
Some of the major ideas regarding the possible effects of frustration are discussed in the chapter. The position taken by cognitively oriented social psychologists is reviewed, and then the author's own conception based on general behavior theorizing is given. The chapter provides the introduction of aversive conditions as stimuli to aggression. Emotional labeling and attributions are discussed in the chapter in the light of cognitions as all-important and then a question—Is the angry label necessary for angry aggression?—is raised and reviewed in the chapter. The chapter explores the present theory that is aversive events as stimuli to aggression and discusses about aversive events as the source of emotional aggression and aversive events as the source of emotional aggression. The chapter discusses research on pain, aversive stimulation, and aggression, and the effects of aversive conditions on aggression—beginning with animal research and then turning to investigations with humans—is described. Research has been done employing nonpainful aversive conditions and research has also been done into the effects of physical pain. The chapter discusses the goal of the aversively stimulated aggression. It is impossible to eliminate all aversively stimulated aggression.
This chapter discusses the end-products of social psychological processes. It reviews a research on a fairly extensive history in social psychology––persuasion. Testifying to the present dominance of cognitive analyses, the cognitive theories of persuasion are concentrated and demonstrate the fruitfulness of these formulations. The social psychological perspectives are developed to be useful to practitioners. The theories of persuasion are designed to account for the attitude and belief change that occurs in people who are exposed to relatively complex messages that consist of a position advocated by a communicator. Some of the limitations of the cognitive emphasis of most contemporary theories of persuasion consider several viewpoints that emphasize motivation as cognition. The mathematically formulated combinatorial models are reviewed, which have explanatory value primarily in relation to the effects of the content of the persuasive message. The applications of persuasion theory to more practical concerns are also described in the chapter. Theories that have elaborated the cognitive mediation of persuasion are also considered in the chapter.
At puberty radical morphological changes occur. Textbooks on adolescent development have, through the years, faithfully detailed these morphological changes, but without acknowledging that these biological phenomena must necessarily possess identifiable adaptive functions. Thus the student learns various facts about the growth spurt, the appearance of hair, sexual bimaturism, etc. without ever considering the functions of these striking developments.
The paper discusses the relationship between reproductive success and economic control in human societies. It is argued that sociobiology must be concerned with the phenotype, which is in turn influenced by genetic variation, environmental influences during development, the belief structure of the society, socio-political constraints and the economic productivity of the society as independent variables. It is argued that increased production has resulted in increasing importance of belief structures and social controls for explaining variance within cultures in male reproductive success. Although a correlation between reproductive success and control of resources exists in human societies as a main effect, the strength of this association varies in different societies and is importantly affected by the belief structure and socio-political constraints of the society. Sociobiology emerges as an important descriptive but not predictive theory of human societies.
This article argues that concubines (ch'ieh) in traditional China should not be thought of as wives, even secondary wives. Using Sung dynasty (960-1279) evidence, the ritual, legal, and social differences between wives and concubines are examined. Wives were acquired through a betrothal process that entailed exchange of gifts and ceremonies; concubines were purchased through a market in female labor much as maids were. A wife's relatives became kin of her husband and his family; a concubine's did not. A man could take as many concubines as he could afford; he could marry only one wife. The sons of a concubine had the same rights of inheritance as the sons of a wife, but they had to treat their father's wife as their legal mother, honoring their "birth mother" to a lesser degree. A concubine had to treat the wife as her mistress, and she might well be used by the wife as a personal maid. The wife could rear the concubine's children herself if she chose to and would be their legal guardian if the father died. In criminal law, concubines fell between wives and maids in matters such as injuries to family members. The conclusion of this essay considers the ways in which the status of concubines changed in later centuries.
INTRODUCTION The form of social organization exhibited by monogamous mammals ranges from a dispersed social system (the pair is rarely seen together or with the young) to a pair bonded condition (the pair is usually seen together, with the nuclear family a temporary phenome-non) to a permanent nuclear or extended family (the pair is always seen together with different-aged offspring and sometimes other kin) (see Figure 20-1). The purpose of this paper is to examine the similarities and differences in the behavior of monogamous mam-mals, to determine whether there are correlations among different behavioral characteris-tics, depending upon the form of social organization exhibited. The chief behavioral characteristics to be discussed here include the form, intensity, and direction of interactions between and within the sexes, the condition of young at birth and during ontogeny, parental care systems, dispersal mechanisms, and sex differences in territorial behaviors such as scent marking.
Describes the historical background of some of the more striking techniques used by a variety of premodern bureaucracies to ensure the loyalty of their officers that involved the destruction of family attachments through castration, celibacy, abduction, and adoption. Four basic techniques are outlined that are open to leadership of large modern organizations to defeat, contain, or constructively rechannel the fragmentary forces engendered by familial bonds and that promote the cohesion of unrelated individuals: severance, harmonization, mimicry, and restitution. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a behavioral-ecological, contextual approach to thinking about cultural variation as well as the problem of the gap between actual behavior and optimal behavior. This approach emphasizes sociobiologically predicted, genetically based, central tendencies in human behavior rather than genetic variation, but it is consistent with theories emphasizing genetic variation. The variable of economic production is introduced as a contextual variable associated, in sociobiologically predictable ways, with variation in sexual competition, family and social structure, and the socialization of children. Social controls on individual behavior as well as personal ideology are described as contextual variables that strongly affect individual fitness within societies, but do so in ways that are underdetermined by biological theory. For example, there is no way derived from biological theory to predict whether ideology or social controls in a society will be egalitarian or antiegalitarian. Individual behavior is also strongly affected by the interactions of these contextual variables with proximal mechanisms. Examples of maladaptive behavior emphasizing the interactions among the proposed contextual variables, the sociobiologically expected central tendencies in human behavior, and the proximal mechanisms proposed by psychologists are provided.
Thesis--Columbia University. Abstract. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 251-256). Microfilm of typescript.
Data gathered in Australia and England on the social attitudes of spouses and twins are largely consistent with a genetic model for family resemblance in social attitudes. There is substantial assortative mating and little evidence of vertical cultural inheritance.
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Women in Roman succession
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Female infanticide, reproductive strategies, and social stratification: A preliminary model
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Cognitive theories of persuasion
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