domingo, 1 de novembro de 2015

Next Session - November 5, 2015

And...we're back!!!

From now on, sessions will take place on Thursdays at 11 am. 

The next one will be led by Ludwig Krippahl, professor at the Department of Computer Science at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the New University of Lisbon, and member of CENTRIAthe research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, who proposes a discussion on the "merits and demerits" of Evolutionary Psychology. 

Evolutionary Psychology: a good framework?

Evolutionary Psychology is an approach to understanding human behaviour on the assumption that the mechanisms responsible for our cognition and behaviour are mainly the result of evolution through natural selection. If this is so, then we should find common features of human behaviour and psychology that match what would have been selected for during our evolution (our “environment of evolutionary adaptedness”, a term coined by John Bolby in 1969). This framework has been used to propose evolutionary explanations in controversial topics such as rape, intersexual violence and mate choice. For example, the proposal by Thornhill and Palmer that rape and sexual coercion are mate choice strategies that can increase evolutionary fitness in some cases (1) led to criticisms that evolutionary psychology was trying to justify rape (2).

Other, better informed, criticisms focus the assumption that our behaviour is directly linked to specialized modules evolved to elicit some behaviour patterns instead of resulting from more general processes that allow us to learn behaviours from social interaction. However, this may not be an actual problem for evolutionary psychology but just a matter of distinguishing between more plastic aspects of our behaviour from more fundamental tendencies that result from evolutionary pressures.

I propose a brief discussion on the merits and demerits of evolutionary psychology based on four papers. The first is David Buss' 1995 paper introducing evolutionary psychology (3); the second is a criticism of evolutionary psychology by David Buller (4); and the third and fourth are research papers on sex differences in aggression, presenting both experimental results and evolutionary explanations (5,6).

1- Thornhill, Randy, and Craig T. Palmer. A natural history of rape: Biological bases of sexual coercion. MIT press, 2001.
2- «Thornhill and Palmer were careful not to take their analysis as any kind of moral mandate for rape; it was, rather, an evolutionary explanation of why men rape. They insist that their interest is in helping rather than harming women. Nonetheless some critics understood their analysis to justify rape, and, at least, to give some comfort to rapists» .Richardson, Robert C. Evolutionary psychology as maladapted psychology. Cambridge, MA: MIT press, 2007.
3- Buss, David M. "Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science." Psychological inquiry 6.1 (1995): 1-30.
4- Buller, David, “Evolutionary Psychology: A Critique”, in M. Nani and M.Marraffa (eds.), A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, (, 2000.
5- Archer, John. "Does sexual selection explain human sex differences in aggression?." Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32.3-4 (2009): 249-266.
6- Vaillancourt, Tracy, and Aanchal Sharma. "Intolerance of sexy peers: Intrasexual competition among women." Aggressive behavior 37.6 (2011): 569-577.

The four texts can be found here

See you on Thursday at 11 am! (The room will be confirmed shortly).

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