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Serial: Michigan discussions in anthropology.
Title: Sociobiological Determinism: Theme with Variations [pp. 169-183,]
Author: Boucher, Doug; Bresnahan, Pat; Figlio, Karl
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171 Michigan Discussions i-7n Anthropologyi anything in our background that might have led to this, or whether it's just an outcome of human social institutions. And to me, the answer is quite clear: wherever one looks throughout the vertebrates, all the animals, the primates and so on, one finds men competing for status with each other. [DeVore] Barash tells us that: Like the male hoary marmots inhabiting a highly social environment (Chapter 7), the human male can maximize his fitness by interacting with other adults. By competing with other males, he can retain access to his female and also possibly attract additional mates. This line of reasoning thus provides further support for the "biology of the double standard" argument presented above, and it also suggests why women have almost universally found themselves relegated to the nursery while men derive their greatest satisfaction from their jobs. [1977:301] And Dawkins almost caricatures the position by stating: Now they (genes) swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines. [1976:21] These statements demonstrate a range of genetic determinisms, from those regarding us as "preordained" or "programmed" by our genes, to those speaking of genetic "biases," "tendencies," or "limits," to those merely implying the causal role of a "genetic basis." However, they all treat the genotype as determining the basic range of options for human behavior, with environmental influences selecting among these options to a greater or lesser extent. To use a metaphor presented by E.0. Wilson, the phenotype is like a ball rolling down a genetic landscape, with environment pushing it out of some channels into others. Some channels in the genetic landscape are deep, so that few kinds of environments can push us out of them, while others are quite shallow (Wilson, 1978). This view and the various degrees of determinism flowing from it, share a basic misconception: that ''genotype'' and ''environment"~ are separable in terms of their causal action, and thus that genotype