Evolutionary-psychology bashing analysed

Online in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, an interesting article by Edouard Machery and Kara Cohen: “An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences” (doi: 10.1093/bjps/axr029) available here. Here is how Machery describes the article (at the blog It is Only a Theory):

"Philosophers of biology often have a very dim view of evolutionary psychology, and evolutionary-psychology bashing has been a successful cottage industry. I have been unimpressed by many of these criticisms, in part because of the feeling that the critics of evolutionary psychology were very poorly informed about what evolutionary psychology was. Imo, many of them simply have no serious acquaintance with the field they are criticizing. But, so far, my reaction was just that: an opinion, a feeling. Not anymore.

In a forthcoming article, Kara Cohen and I have provided support for this impression. using a new tool: quantitative citation analysis. We show that the usual, very negative characterization of evolutionary psychology is largely mistaken, and that philosophers of biology have been fighting a strawman. It is also noteworthy that quantitative citation analysis could be particularly useful for philosophers of science who want to add quantitative tools to their toolbox."

 

 

Abstract: The disagreement between philosophers about the scientific worth of the evolutionary behavioral sciences (evolutionary psychology, human behavioral ecology, etc.) is in part due to the fact that critics and advocates of these sciences characterize them very differently. In this article, by analyzing quantitatively the citations made in the articles published in Evolution & Human Behavior between January 2000 and December 2002, we provide some evidence that undermines the characterization of the evolutionary behavioral sciences put forward by their critics.

 

 

1 Four Claims about the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

  1.1 The disparaging characterization
  1.2 Evolutionary behavioral scientists’ acquaintance with the biological sciences and with evolutionary biology
  1.3 Evolutionary behavioral scientists and the evolutionary biology of the 1960s and 1970s
  1.4 Evolutionary behavioral scientists and sociobiology
  1.5 The homogeneity of the evolutionary behavioral sciences

· 2 Quantitative Citation Analysis

  2.1 The usual philosophical method
  2.2 Quantitative citation analysis
  2.3 Operationalizing the controversy
  2.4 A plea for quantitative analyses

· 3 Methods and Preliminary Analyses

  3.1 Methods
  3.2 Analysis by publication date
  3.3 Analysis by authors’ disciplinary affiliation

· 4 Hypothesis 1: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Sufficiently Influenced by Biology in General and by Evolutionary Biology in Particular?

· 5 Hypothesis 2: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Unduly Influenced by the Evolutionary Biology of the 1970s?

· 6 Hypothesis 3: What is the Relation between Sociobiology and the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences?

· 7 Hypothesis 4: Do the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences Divide into Competing Paradigms?

· 8 An Evidence-based Characterization of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences Edouard Machery

+Author Affiliations

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017CL, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA machery@pitt.edu Kara Cohen

+Author Affiliations

elpoep@gmail.com Abstract

The disagreement between philosophers about the scientific worth of the evolutionary behavioral sciences (evolutionary psychology, human behavioral ecology, etc.) is in part due to the fact that critics and advocates of these sciences characterize them very differently. In this article, by analyzing quantitatively the citations made in the articles published in Evolution & Human Behavior between January 2000 and December 2002, we provide some evidence that undermines the characterization of the evolutionary behavioral sciences put forward by their critics.

1 Four Claims about the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

  1.1 The disparaging characterization

  1.2 Evolutionary behavioral scientists’ acquaintance with the biological sciences and with evolutionary biology

  1.3 Evolutionary behavioral scientists and the evolutionary biology of the 1960s and 1970s

  1.4 Evolutionary behavioral scientists and sociobiology

  1.5 The homogeneity of the evolutionary behavioral sciences

2 Quantitative Citation Analysis

  2.1 The usual philosophical method

  2.2 Quantitative citation analysis

  2.3 Operationalizing the controversy

  2.4 A plea for quantitative analyses

3 Methods and Preliminary Analyses

  3.1 Methods

  3.2 Analysis by publication date

  3.3 Analysis by authors’ disciplinary affiliation

4 Hypothesis 1: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Sufficiently Influenced by Biology in General and by Evolutionary Biology in Particular?

5 Hypothesis 2: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Unduly Influenced by the Evolutionary Biology of the 1970s?

6 Hypothesis 3: What is the Relation between Sociobiology and the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences?

7 Hypothesis 4: Do the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences Divide into Competing Paradigms?

8 An Evidence-based Characterization of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

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