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

Date: Fri Jan 28 2000 - 09:53:13 EST

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    > >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.

    Evolutionary psychology used to be called sociobiology. Now, sociobiology
    explains altruistic behavior through a darwinian lens. It has even been
    invoked to explain the genetic basis of homosexuality and abortion.
    Thus, what do we have? A "theory" that explains both selfish and selfless
    acts. A "theory" that explains both acts that increase fecundity and decrease
    fecundity. In short, a "theory" that explains anything and everything, thus
    making no implications about what we should find in the world. It's
    plastic wrap, and since plastic wrap can be molded around any form,
    some people might confuse this property and think the plastic wrap
    is the cause of the forms.

    Let me play evolutionary psychologist. Let's pretend men, in general,
    did not seek out as many sex contacts as possible. Would evolutionary
    psychology be refuted? No. One could argue populations that
    did not discourage promiscuity entailed intratribal strife that meant
    such populations were less likely to contribute the human gene pool
    (they could not compete well against tribes that did practice fidelity).
    Over time, the promiscuous tribes would be replaced by the chaste
    tribes. And voila - a darwinian explanation for why men don't
    seek out as many sex contacts as possible.

    So you see, it doesn't matter what we find out there. That's why
    I don't see any real "insight" from evolutionary psychology.

    >> >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.

    Yes, this would be another example of the Gould vs. Dawkins debate.
    But one could also argue the byproduct itself was selected and since
    rape involves other psychological traits not involved in simply having
    sex, those traits become selected. And now we have an evolutionary
    explanation for men's inferior sense of empathy. Evolutionary
    psychology makes it so easy to do science! ;)

    But remember also that while evolutionary psychology can explain
    the existence of rape, it also must explain the moral sense against
    rape. You guessed it‰¥Ïmore plastic wrap.

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

    Of course, this is a defining feature of evolutionary psychology, although
    proponents of it often forget this.


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