Christopher Badcock is Reader in Sociology at the London School of Economics. He wrote in the Preface to this 2000 book, "I must emphasize that this book is not intended to be a general critique of evolution or psychology... where a fundamental issue of evolutionary interpretation does have pertinence to evolutionary psychology, I have discussed the difficulties that are relevant to it... Similar remarks apply to psychology... This book is described as a critical introduction not because it is critical of the fundamental claim that human psychology has evolved... but because much criticism is warranted by the application of that belief to particular aspects of psychology by evolutionary psychologists." (Pg. xi-xii)
He suggests, "just because something has evolved doesn't necessarily mean that it is 'particularly well designed' for performing its function. On the contrary... many important adaptations in the human body are not particularly well designed for their adaptive purpose and are certainly far from optimal in the way they work." (Pg. 21) He later points out, "Behaviourism... showed that even laboratory animals cannot be regarded as blank slates, conditionable at the whim of the behaviourist. On the contrary, behaviourism's failures suggest that if there are strict limits to the conditioning of animals, they are likely to be even stricter ones where human beings are concerned." (Pg. 243)
He argues, "Indeed, it is genetically true that genes need not---and indeed cannot---contain all the information that would be necessary if they really were completely detailed blueprints for organisms. The human genome could not possibly store enough data to detail every connection between brain cells, for example, simply because there are so many billions of them... This is nothing like enough to code them all in DNA, even if every one of the three billion bases available in the entire genome were used." (Pg. 60) He adds, "Those who balk at the idea of genes building behaviour ... are probably doing so in some part because ... they jump directly from the gene to behaviour without thinking of the agent that must lie in between. The concept of the epigenetic agent explains how and why genes can be the units of inheritance and yet the agents that they generate can have capabilities that far exceed their own." (Pg. 70)
He states, "According to this approach, the nature/murture controversy would ... [be] one between maternal and paternal genes that build different brain systems, motivate different types of behaviour, and conflict over fundamental issues like egoism and altruism... The maternal genome of the individual will always be biased in favour of ALTRUISM because maternal genes will always be shared with other offspring of the same mother... maternal genes of the individual will favour INTELLECT over instinct for much the same reasons: instinct can be biologically programmed by paternal genes, but the mother's genes can rely on her nurturing role and pervasive environmental influence to educate and mould the psychology of her children..." (Pg. 264-265)
He summarizes, "to date, evolutionary psychology has thought about the problem principallly in terms of the whole organism, and has seldom considered the possibility of conflict between different parts of the individual's genome... this book... suggests a new possibility. This is that there is not just one brain with one evolved psychology, but at least two, and that different brain systems motivate different behaviour to benefit different sets of genes... the nature side of the nature/nurture controversy appears to correspond to one of these, and the nurture side to the other. Clearly, if evolutionary psychology is to succeed as an enterprise it must be the psychology of both..." (Pg. 267-268)
This is an interesting approach, that will be of interest to those wanting discussions of the "metatheory" aspects of evolutionary psychology.