Alas, Poor Darwin

book by Hilary Rose, and Steven Rose, published 2000 by Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-06030-9

The book is a group of essays by a variety of well known and respected academics. It argues against Darwinism, and particularly Evolutionary Psychology, and proposes a rich biosocialism.

Introduction by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose - notes

The introduction highlights the rise of an insidious Darwinism which tries to explain everything by reference to genetic history.

Evolutionary psychology (EP)  particularly is defined, and argued against. EP claims no change to fundamental human psychology since the Pleistocene and studies of finch's on Darwin's own island, and the domestic breeding changes of cows, sheep, cats and dogs, all argue for adaptive change physically so why not psychologically.

The Roses highlight the speculative nature of the field by quoting the publication earlier this year of "A natural history of rap: biological basis of sexual coercion, by Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer. In EP style they categorise rape as a reproductive strategy of otherwise sexually unsuccessful men. To do this they draw extensively on animal forced sexual behaviour. This approach of anthropomorphizing animal behaviour was rejected in the 1980's since clearly all observed forced sex in animals takes place with sexually fertile females. As criminal lawyers will readily testify, most victims of human rape are too old or too young to be fertile. For these authors even tight garments become an invitation to sex.

While there are continuities with the old-style socio-biology of EO Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Robert Trivers and David Buss, there are important differences. (This both the founders of EP and  the contributors to this book agree)

"It is the argument of the authors of this book that the claims of EP in the fields of biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, cultural studies and philosophy, are for the most part, not merely mistaken, but culturally pernicious.. Further they claim that their new view of human nature should inform the making of social and public policy. Thus the new science has a political dimension, although its protagonists vary in the advocacy both the direction and the speed of implementation."

The loss of certainties in the last two decades of the 20th century has seen some dramatic shifts in humans values.

Within this framework new forms of biological determinism have arisen.