RE: Evolution and Rape (was Re: The Kansas ScienceEducationStandards)

From: John E. Rylander (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2000 - 09:58:37 EST

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    > In a message dated 1/27/00 12:16:57 AM Dateline Standard Time,
    > writes:
    > >>>Evolutionary psychology is often very speculative, but I think it's
    > >>>surprisingly insightful in its comments wrt human sexuality in
    > >>>general, even if not -necessarily- in this particular case.
    > >> I think it only has the appearance of being insightful due to the
    > >> plastic-wrap
    > >> nature of darwinism.
    > >Agreed, it's vague and speculative, but that's not the same as
    > saying it's
    > >meaningless. It's not even in the same ballpark of predictive
    > specificity
    > >as physics, say, but it's a whole lot better than just taking
    > all of human
    > >nature as a non-predictive given, I think. (Certainly from a scientific
    > >perspective, no?)
    > I don't see any way in which evolutionary psychology has been predictive.
    > It's all "after the fact" type of rationalizations. Standard
    > just so story
    > stuff.

    Our disagreement is a matter of degree, but it does still seem to me that
    evolution would predict, given the different sort of fertility that men and
    women have, that (culture and free choice aside) men would be more sexual
    quantitative and superficial, and women looking more for commitment.

    > >>But the question is why not in this case? What's
    > >> the evidence with an insightful claim and what is missing in the
    > >> rape claim?
    > >An insightful claim: men will naturally tend to seek quantity of sexual
    > >contacts, women quality. This seems backed up by common sense
    > (men seeking
    > >sex, women love, etc.), and strongly supported by evolutionary theory.
    > Okay, now imagine men did not seek quantity of sexual contacts. It
    > would be easy to come up with a darwinian explanation for this too.
    > Like I said, it's plastic wrap.

    I think we'd need a more detailed scenario to figure out how that would
    work. This could be the case in a long-term Christian community, e.g.,
    where due to cultural pressure and free choices men had as much invested in
    a sexual relationship as women, so that promiscuous men had no offspring due
    to being shunned or ...something. :^/ But once fecund promiscuity is
    permitted, let alone encouraged or subsidized (as today), and assuming such
    promiscuity has -some- degree of genetic basis (via sexuality, via biology),
    genetically it'll tend to spread amongst males.

    > >This rape claim is more speculative simply because there's less
    > evidence for
    > >it, and because the evidence has been less well scrutinized. Again, even
    > >its proponents see it only as one hypothesis amongst competitors
    > right now,
    > >even if it's the one they see as most plausible.
    > The rape claim simply builds on the men want quantity of sex
    > explanation.
    > Drop the moral concerns and it *is* the quantity of sex explanation.

    Yes, but it's more subtle than that. E.g., a rival explanation is that rape
    was never itself an evolutionarily successful strategy, but is a byproduct
    of excessive degrees (on the edges of the normal distribution) of sexual
    behaviors that -were- or -are- successful.

    I agree that this is all vague and speculative, remember.

    > >> BTW, it wouldn't take much to come up with an darwinian justification
    > >> for racism, now would it?
    > >If you mean racism as an empirical claim, I think those issues are
    > >independent of evolutionary theory. I.e., if one thinks racism
    > is true, one
    > >can fit that into evolutionary theory easily enough, or one can
    > just take it
    > >as a given. And if one rejects racism, ditto.
    > >If you mean racism as a moral claim, that's even less connected with
    > >evolutionary theory. (Historically, slaveholders, in the US and
    > the world,
    > >haven't relied a bit on evolutionary theory.)
    > What I mean is that one could just as easily support a hypothesis that
    > racism is in our genes and was selected by darwinian evolution. Thus,
    > it could be said that we were created as rapists and racists.

    Yes, I think this is true. Even if such things (particularly the racism) do
    not follow clearly from evolution, is very easy to imagine a literarily
    compelling "just so story" that would lead many to think they were -- or
    vice versa. (If Dawkins were a racist, I bet this is what we'd already
    have.) Evolutionary theorists already do this, in fact, even while
    condemning it.

    As a reminder: it's -critically- important to distinguish
    between -description- and -prescription-. I think, e.g., that humans are
    naturally very sinful (not -purely- so, obviously, but very so). I am not
    in the least therefore so much as hinting than sin is good, and this even if
    at least some of this sinfulness is biologically based on evolution (as
    presumably some of it is, even on a YEC view, e.g.).

    Two relevant asides:

            There are two different meanings of the word "expect", one descriptive, one
    prescriptive. (E.g., you can prescriptively expect a little kid to make his
    bed every day, even while knowing for a fact that he pretty much never
    does.) So one has to expect (descriptively) evil behavior out of people,
    even while clearly expecting (prescriptively) better. (This term is almost
    never clarified, and causes no end of problems. We haven't done that yet
    :^>, but I wanted to preclude it.)

            It's not a sin to have a sinful nature; but a sinful nature does tend one
    toward sin. A sinful nature happens to us, or at least is not a matter of
    choice on our part; sin is something we freely do, even when are freedom is
    by no means 100%, which is pretty much always the case, I think.


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