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Sociobiology

According to its ‘founding figure', E. O. Wilson, sociobiology is “the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior.” Unlike sociology, with its “structuralist and nongenetic approach” and its focus on “descriptive taxonomy and ecology”, sociobiology works entirely within the neo-Darwinist evolutionary paradigm in which “each phenomenon is weighed for its adaptive significance and then related to the basic principles of opulatin genetics.” Its primary assumption, then, is that the behavior of an organism is, at least partly, influenced by its genetics; thus biologically significant behaviors form the basis for the evolution of human culture. Sociobiology examines both differences between species and within species, particularly through research in behavioural genetics. Richard Dawkins, for example, has focused on the genetic constraints of social behavior, emphasizing that differences in the allele’s of even a ‘single gene’ might result in strikingly different social acts. We are, in effect, the “survival machines” by which genes perpetuate themselves. Dawkins has also proposed that ‘memes’, units which replicate cultural variations, play an analogous role in cultural evolution as does the gene in biological evolution. Lindon Eaves and colleagues have pursued extensive research on the relation between genetics and environment on personality and attitude by a comparitive study of fraternal and maternal twins

Related Topics:

Genetics
Evolution

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

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