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Neo-liberal Genetics

The Myths and Moral Tales of Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychology claims to be the authoritative science of "human nature." Its chief architects, including Stephen Pinker and David Buss, have managed to reach well beyond the ivory tower to win large audiences and influence public discourse. But do the answers that evolutionary psychologists provide about language, sex, and social relations add up? Susan McKinnon thinks not.
Far from being an account of evolution and social relations that has historical and cross-cultural validity, evolutionary psychology is a stunning example of a "science" that twists evolutionary genetics into a myth of human origins. As McKinnon shows, that myth is shaped by neo-liberal economic values and relies on ethnocentric understandings of sex, gender, kinship, and social relations. She also explores the implications for public policy of the moral tales that are told by evolutionary psychologists in the guise of "scientific" inquiry.
Drawing widely from the anthropological record, Neo-liberal Genetics offers a sustained and accessible critique of the myths of human nature fabricated by evolutionary psychologists.

184 pages | 4 1/2 x 7 | © 2005

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


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Reviews

"Interesting insight."

Henry Harpending | American Ethnologist

"Written with clarity and vigor, but not so much passion that it can be dismissed as ’partisan political correctness.’"

Rex | Savage Minds

Table of Contents

I.  Introduction
Contrasting Theories of the Mind
The Calculus of Genetics and Gender
The Science and Politics of Naturalization
The Cold Hard Facts of Science
 
II.  Mind and Culture
Natural Selection as Puppeteer, Policy Maker, and Programmer
Natural Selection’s "Shameless Ploy"
Mind and Mechanism and Module
Fixed Architecture vs. Neural Plasticity
Shady Accounting Genes
The Rationality of Absolutely Everything
The Choice That Is Not a Choice
The Individual That Is Not an Individual
The Culture That Is Not Culture
 
III.  Individual and Society
Genetic Individualism and the Problem of the "Social"
The Poverty of the Genetic Calculus
The Poverty of Individual Self-Interest
The Futures in Cloning
 
IV.  Sex and Gender
Tracking the Resources
The Oxymoronic "Male Sexual Mind"
The Cultural Values of Promiscuity
Unwiring the "Madonna-whore Switch"
Like a Lion and its Kill: Proprietariness and its Discontents
From "Core Mindset" to Cultural Meaning
 
V.  Science and Fiction
Organic and Cross Species Analogies
The Fabrication of Cross-cultural Deep Structures
Evolutionary and Genetic History:  The Cartoon Version
 
VI.  Science and Morality
 
Acknowledgements
Bibliography

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