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Cosmides, Leda, , John Tooby. Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer
1997, Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind.Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionarybiology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision,reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic withinit.In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection tosolve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This way of thinking about the brain, mind,and behavior is changing how scientists approach old topics, and opening up new ones. This chapter is aprimer on the concepts and arguments that animate it.

Comment: This is an enjoyable introduction to the influential evolutionary psychology research program. It touches on many issues of longstanding interest to philosophers, such as the roles of nature and nurture and the normativity of abstract reasoning. I have used it in philosophy of biology and philosophy of social science courses. For more advanced students, it can be read together with Elisabeth Lloyd's paper 'Evolutionary Psychology: The Burdens of Proof.'

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Lloyd, Elisabeth A., , . The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution
2007, Hypatia 22 (3):218-222.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Carl Hoefer

Abstract: Why women evolved to have orgasms – when most of their primate relatives don’t – is a persistent mystery among evolutionary biologists. In pursuing this mystery, Elisabeth Lloyd arrives at another: How could anything as inadequate as the evolutionary explanations of the female orgasm have passed muster as science? A judicious and revealing look at all twenty evolutionary accounts of the trait of human female orgasm, Lloyd’s book is at the same time a case study of how certain biases steer science astray.
Over the past fifteen years, the effect of sexist or male-centered approaches to science has been hotly debated. Drawing especially on data from nonhuman primates and human sexology over eighty years, Lloyd shows what damage such bias does in the study of female orgasm. She also exposes a second pernicious form of bias that permeates the literature on female orgasms: a bias toward adaptationism. Here Lloyd’s critique comes alive, demonstrating how most of the evolutionary accounts either are in conflict with, or lack, certain types of evidence necessary to make their cases – how they simply assume that female orgasm must exist because it helped females in the past reproduce. As she weighs the evidence, Lloyd takes on nearly everyone who has written on the subject: evolutionists, animal behaviorists, and feminists alike. Her clearly and cogently written book is at once a convincing case study of bias in science and a sweeping summary and analysis of what is known about the evolution of the intriguing trait of female orgasm.

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Lloyd, Elisabeth A., , . The structure and confirmation of evolutionary theory
1994, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Carl Hoefer

Publisher’s Note: Traditionally a scientific theory is viewed as based on universal laws of nature that serve as axioms for logical deduction. In analyzing the logical structure of evolutionary biology, Elisabeth Lloyd argues that the semantic account is more appropriate and powerful. This book will be of interest to biologists and philosophers alike.

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Plutynski, Anya, , . The rise and fall of the adaptive landscape?
2008, Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):605-623.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Anya Plutynski

Abstract: The discussion of the adaptive landscape in the philosophical literature appears to be divided along the following lines. On the one hand, some claim that the adaptive landscape is either ‘uninterpretable’ or incoherent. On the other hand, some argue that the adaptive landscape has been an important heuristic, or tool in the service of explaining, as well as proposing and testing hypotheses about evolutionary change. This paper attempts to reconcile these two views.

Comment: I use this in my philosophy of biology class to discuss the use of metaphor and analogy in science.

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Street, Sharon, , . A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value
2006, Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Abstract: Contemporary realist theories of value claim to be compatible with natural science. In this paper, I call this claim into question by arguing that Darwinian considerations pose a dilemma for these theories. The main thrust of my argument is this. Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes. The challenge for realist theories of value is to explain the relation between these evolutionary influences on our evaluative attitudes, on the one hand, and the independent evaluative truths that realism posits, on the other. Realism, I argue, can give no satisfactory account of this relation. On the one hand, the realist may claim that there is no relation between evolutionary influences on our evaluative attitudes and independent evaluative truths. But this claim leads to the implausible skeptical result that most of our evaluative judgments are off track due to the distorting pressure of Darwinian forces. The realist’s other option is to claim that there is a relation between evolutionary influences and independent evaluative truths, namely that natural selection favored ancestors who were able to grasp those truths. But this account, I argue, is unacceptable on scientific grounds. Either way, then, realist theories of value prove unable to accommodate the fact that Darwinian forces have deeply influenced the content of human values. After responding to three objections, the third of which leads me to argue against a realist understanding of the disvalue of pain, I conclude by sketching how antirealism is able to sidestep the dilemma I have presented. Antirealist theories of value are able to offer an alternative account of the relation between evolutionary forces and evaluative facts—an account that allows us to reconcile our understanding of evaluative truth with our understanding of the many nonrational causes that have played a role in shaping our evaluative judgments.

Comment: This is an influential paper that could serve either as required reading or further reading in a metaethics module. Includes a very clear explanation of realism.

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