Sociobiology Debate 
Author Message
 Sociobiology Debate
Ge> >Is the act of asking the question (Is there a biological basis for
Ge> >male {*filter*}?) a validation of male {*filter*}?

Ge> Absolutely not! Anyone who is interested in helping to steer the
Ge> direction of cultural evolution in a direction which they believe will
Ge> result in a better quality of life must be in full possession of the
Ge> facts relating to where we are now, and how we got here. To stick your
Ge> head in the sand and murmur soothing platitudes is not an effective
Ge> strategy.

[material deleted here]

Ge> One of the factors that makes it more difficult for women to participate
Ge> in public/economic life on an equal footing with men is our evolutionary
Ge> past, both in the cultural and biological realm. If we want to allow
Ge> women to use their abilities with a maximum of freedom and opportunity
Ge> for the individual, without the sex-role constraints of the past, then
Ge> we need to understand exactly how and why male {*filter*} persists among
Ge> humans. I've seen people get very uncomfortable about the possibility
Ge> that male {*filter*} has biological/genetic underpinnings; I feel that
Ge> this is an issue which must be fairly faced, and which does not in any
Ge> way negate the possibility of building a just society.

Having seen this sort of statement many times from sociobiologists, I'd
like to ask a question.  Why do you say that we MUST know this (assuming
the basic premise [of universal male {*filter*} throughout the entire span
of human evolution] isn't fundamentally flawed) before we can make
changes?  

I find the (essentially same) statement (as yours) in the conclusion
of Hrdy's "The Woman Who Never Evolved", as well as other sociobiological
works (especially books), and in the calls for "natural law" and "natural
ethics".  I've never seen this type of statement backed up in any way,
just stated as a maxim, and accepted without refence or (apparently)
questioning.  

It seems to be a holdover from pre-evolutionary thinking (this is not a
flame; it's a critique [I maintain there can be a difference between
the two, even on the nets ;-)]).  It's virtually a carbon copy of the
religiously-based (largely fundamentalist Christian) idea that of sin
and redemption: the idea that before your soul can be redeemed, you MUST
accept that you are a sinner.  


 * Q-Blue 1.0 *



Sun, 31 Aug 1997 06:55:00 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate

Quote:

>Ge> >Is the act of asking the question (Is there a biological basis for
>Ge> >male {*filter*}?) a validation of male {*filter*}?

>Ge> Absolutely not! Anyone who is interested in helping to steer the
>Ge> direction of cultural evolution in a direction which they believe will
>Ge> result in a better quality of life must be in full possession of the
>Ge> facts relating to where we are now, and how we got here. To stick your
>Ge> head in the sand and murmur soothing platitudes is not an effective
>Ge> strategy.

>[material deleted here]

>Ge> One of the factors that makes it more difficult for women to participate
>Ge> in public/economic life on an equal footing with men is our evolutionary
>Ge> past, both in the cultural and biological realm. If we want to allow
>Ge> women to use their abilities with a maximum of freedom and opportunity
>Ge> for the individual, without the sex-role constraints of the past, then
>Ge> we need to understand exactly how and why male {*filter*} persists among
>Ge> humans. I've seen people get very uncomfortable about the possibility
>Ge> that male {*filter*} has biological/genetic underpinnings; I feel that
>Ge> this is an issue which must be fairly faced, and which does not in any
>Ge> way negate the possibility of building a just society.

>Having seen this sort of statement many times from sociobiologists, I'd
>like to ask a question.  Why do you say that we MUST know this (assuming
>the basic premise [of universal male {*filter*} throughout the entire span
>of human evolution] isn't fundamentally flawed) before we can make
>changes?  

>I find the (essentially same) statement (as yours) in the conclusion
>of Hrdy's "The Woman Who Never Evolved", as well as other sociobiological
>works (especially books), and in the calls for "natural law" and "natural
>ethics".  I've never seen this type of statement backed up in any way,
>just stated as a maxim, and accepted without refence or (apparently)
>questioning.  

>It seems to be a holdover from pre-evolutionary thinking (this is not a
>flame; it's a critique [I maintain there can be a difference between
>the two, even on the nets ;-)]).  It's virtually a carbon copy of the
>religiously-based (largely fundamentalist Christian) idea that of sin
>and redemption: the idea that before your soul can be redeemed, you MUST
>accept that you are a sinner.  


> * Q-Blue 1.0 *

I think you missed the point of Hrdy's book.  It is important to understand
the biological basis for male {*filter*} in human social groups but by
no means is biology equal to destiny.  If we judge male {*filter*} to be
something we would like to change then it is important to understand why
it exist in the first place.  It is analogous to understand the cause of
a disease before you treat it, otherwise you can only deal with symptoms.

--
Philip "Chris"  Nicholls                        Department of Anthropology
Institute for Hydrohominoid Studies       SUNY  Albany

"Semper Alouatta"



Sun, 31 Aug 1997 22:46:23 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate

Quote:

>Ge> One of the factors that makes it more difficult for women to participate
>Ge> in public/economic life on an equal footing with men is our evolutionary
>Ge> past, both in the cultural and biological realm. If we want to allow
>Ge> women to use their abilities with a maximum of freedom and opportunity
>Ge> for the individual, without the sex-role constraints of the past, then
>Ge> we need to understand exactly how and why male {*filter*} persists among
>Ge> humans. I've seen people get very uncomfortable about the possibility
>Ge> that male {*filter*} has biological/genetic underpinnings; I feel that
>Ge> this is an issue which must be fairly faced, and which does not in any
>Ge> way negate the possibility of building a just society.
>Having seen this sort of statement many times from sociobiologists, I'd
>like to ask a question.  Why do you say that we MUST know this (assuming
>the basic premise [of universal male {*filter*} throughout the entire span
>of human evolution] isn't fundamentally flawed) before we can make
>changes?  

In my opinion male {*filter*} _is_ biologically based. But do we need to know
that? No. Because even if it has a biolocigal reason, that doesn't mean that
that biological reason has any validity today. (Whicjit hasn't).

Of course it can be beneficial to understand why male dominates when you
discuss equality with somebody that thinks that women should stay home and be
slaves. However, since most of the people that are of that opinion are
religous fanatics they can't take arguments anyway.

I''ll explain what I mean with biological reasons for male {*filter*} if
somebody asks me too.

--

Moderator of comp.os.netware.announce.



Mon, 01 Sep 1997 17:11:55 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate

Quote:

> Ge> >Is the act of asking the question (Is there a biological basis for
> Ge> >male {*filter*}?) a validation of male {*filter*}?
> It seems to be a holdover from pre-evolutionary thinking
> It's virtually a carbon copy of the
> religiously-based (largely fundamentalist Christian) idea that of sin
> and redemption: the idea that before your soul can be redeemed, you MUST
> accept that you are a sinner.  

Alternative hypothesis:

In order to change your behaviour, you have to have a grasp on
why you are doing what you are doing.  Similarly, in order to
fix your bicycle you should have an idea about how the darn thing
works BEFORE you start tinkering. Otherwise you are likely to
{*filter*}it up worse by your meddling.

If this hypothesis is true, then we should devide the xtian
sin doctrine into bits and pieces, and eliminate the bad ones while
keeping those parts that are functional.

Unfortunately xtian sin concepts seem easily corrupted to
function as tools working against the people they are supposed to help.

What might keep sociobiological analyses from such a fate.
Perhaps more sociobiology (and game theory).
What if the types of 'social tools' designed were thought out
rigorously enough to help protect them from easily being corrupted.



Tue, 02 Sep 1997 10:54:49 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate
It never fails to amaze me that Westermark's views persist. Have
a look at Briffault and Bachofen. You will find a very different
view of sociobiology, not male dominated, and I think,
complelingly argued.

Someone in this thread has offered to put up the biological basis
for male {*filter*}. I'd be curious to see it.

Whatever that may or may not show, I think it is important to
debate all this not with the idea that physical size and
aggressive behaviour inherently bequeath {*filter*}. Among social
insects, for example, males are typically larger than worker
females, but the males are entirely subjugated to the worker
females. Males beg for food, are customarily killed and thrown
out for various reasons, generally contribute very little to the
social group. Among lions, the male does not dominate.
the females do. Elephant social groups are principally
female. Throughout the natural world, physical size and
aggressiveness does not provide a determinant of {*filter*}.
{*filter*} {*filter*} results from a complex of determinants within
the social organization of the species.

--



Wed, 03 Sep 1997 01:07:15 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate
Quote:

> Among social
> insects, for example, males are typically larger than worker
> females, but the males are entirely subjugated to the worker
> females. Males beg for food, are customarily killed and thrown
> out for various reasons, generally contribute very little to the
> social group.

do you have a reference for this?

Quote:
> Among lions, the male does not dominate.
> the females do.

it all depends on what you mean by dominate.
in lion groups the females have a numerical advantage.
(Caraco and Wolf, 1975)
Can you give a ref on your point?

Quote:
> Elephant social groups are principally
> female.

Does this have anything to do with {*filter*}?

Quote:
> Throughout the natural world, physical size and
> aggressiveness does not provide a determinant of {*filter*}.

I agree, however size is often the biggest single componant
(along with territory ownership) determining {*filter*}.  
{*filter*} in turn leads to mating success.  (Alexander et al. 1979)

Quote:
> {*filter*} {*filter*} results from a complex of determinants within
> the social organization of the species.

Of which size is often the most important.

Literature cited.

Alexander RD JL Hoogland, RD Howard, KM Noonan and PW Sherman.
1979.  {*filter*} dimorphism and breeding systems in pinnepeds,
ungulates, primates and humans.  In Evolutionary biology
and human social behaviour: an anthropological perspective.
ed by NA Chagnon, and W Irons.  Duxbury press.

Caraco T and Wolf LL 1975.  Ecological determinants of group sizes
of foraging lions.  American Naturalist 109:343-352.



Fri, 05 Sep 1997 03:25:12 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate
 From: J. MOORE                              Date: 03-18-95 12:55

Subj.: Re: Sociobiology Debate
 Area: U-SCIANTHROP  |61

Pn> >Why do you say that we MUST know this (assuming the basic premise
Pn> >[of universal male {*filter*} throughout the entire span of human
Pn> >evolution] isn't fundamentally flawed) before we can make changes?

Pn> >I find the (essentially same) statement (as yours) in the conclusion
Pn> >of Hrdy's "The Woman Who Never Evolved", as well as other
Pn> >sociobiological works (especially books), and in the calls for
Pn> >"natural law" and "natural ethics".  I've never seen this type of
Pn> >statement backed up in any way, just stated as a maxim, and accepted
Pn> >without refence or (apparently) questioning.

Pn> >It seems to be a holdover from pre-evolutionary thinking (this is not a
Pn> >flame; it's a critique [I maintain there can be a difference between
Pn> >the two, even on the nets ;-)]).  It's virtually a carbon copy of the
Pn> >religiously-based (largely fundamentalist Christian) idea that of sin
Pn> >and redemption: the idea that before your soul can be redeemed, you
Pn> >MUST accept that you are a sinner.
Pn> >

Pn> I think you missed the point of Hrdy's book.  It is important to
Pn> understand the biological basis for male {*filter*} in human social
Pn> groups but by no means is biology equal to destiny.  If we judge male
Pn> {*filter*} to be something we would like to change then it is important
Pn> to understand why it exist in the first place.  It is analogous to
Pn> understand the cause of a disease before you treat it, otherwise you can
Pn> only deal with symptoms.
Pn> --
Pn> Philip "Chris"  Nicholls                  Department of Anthropology

While it is certainly *possible* that I missed the point of Hrdy's book,
the fact is I didn't say anything *about* Hrdy's book in my post, other
than the fact that she is one of many who wrote something very much like
GF's statement.  So I'm a little surprised that you can tell that I
missed her point ;-).  Now if that WAS her whole point, then I not only
got it, but disagree...

In fact, the only major faults I find in Hrdy's book are 1) the
assumption she seems to put forth that the langurs she studied were
typical, and that she didn't look at all at the known effects of
provisioning on primates.  Mind you, this isn't often done by anyone
(Wrangham and, I believe, Hasegawa [might be thinking of Nishida, but I
don't think so] are the only researchers directly invloved in studying
primates who've made this expicit), but it should be, especially when
your study group shows behavior that doesn't match other groups of the
same animals, and when your group has been extensively provisioned for
perhaps longer than any other group of primates.  The (Hanuman) langurs
Hrdy studied were on the mountain paths leading to a temple to Hanuman,
the monkey god (a langur), and the pilgrims who've been going there for
perhaps the last thousand years make a point of feeding the earthly
manifestations of Hanuman.  

Number 2) is the way she, as do many others, redefines "monogamy" to
include non-monogamous behavior, rather than accepting that humans are
not monogamous.  

Now on to the meat of the post, eh?

Pn> It is important to understand the biological basis for male
Pn> {*filter*} in human social groups but by no means is biology equal
Pn> to destiny.  

This is a sort of non sequitor combined with a bit of strawman;-).  The
strawman part suggests that I accused someone of saying that biology was
equal to destiny, but I didn't talk about that at all.  It's therefore
an innocuous statement that leads one to not examine the first
assumption -- that of a "biological basis for male {*filter*}".  That
needs to be examined, as the term "{*filter*}" has, like many others in
ethology and sociobiology, become jargon that doesn't seem to adequately
describe what's happening.  You defined it as "a basic asymmetry in
social authority and power."  This, like many other "universals", tends
to be accepted and left unexamined.  When examined, it has its problems.
By way of example, let's look at the situation described in a pretty
well-done and widespread book, *Chimpanzee Politics*.

In *Chimpanzee Politics*, Frans de Waal describes the colony of chimps
and their "power struggles", but also describes this "male dominated"
group as having one member who, "when it comes to who can push others
aside, ... is the boss."  (The missing words are "then Mama", ie. the
oldest female.)  If you're talking about a "basic asymmetry in social
authority and power", note that females were deemed {*filter*} 81% of the
time when it came to taking away objects and getting the preferred
places to sit, while males were deemed {*filter*} only in the matters
of "greetings" and actual fights.  In other words, males (some males)
were able to intiminate other chimps, but they didn't seem to get much
out of it.  

[Before mentioning that alpha males are sometimes able, especially in an
enclosed area, to keep other males from having sex, you must remember
that a) this is less possible in the wild, b) they aren't able (or
perhaps willing) to force sex on a female, and c) according to the
only data I know of concerning paternity in wild chimps (Tutin's
1979 Gombe study), 73% of the matings were promiscuous (not monopolized
by an alpha male, or any other male for that matter), 25% were during
"possessive" matings that result when a male keeps other males away, and
the other 2% were during "consortships", when a female and a male go off
together.  These last ("consortships"), despite being very few in
number, resulted in almost half the pregnancies.  It is of interest here
that the one male who is NEVER involved in these consortships is the
"{*filter*}" alpha male.]

de Waal also realizes that these rank relationships don't tell you much
about *what's going on*.  As he says, "I think that, as long as we
concentrate on the formal hierarchy, the explanations will be very poor
indeed.  We should also look behind it, at the second layer: a network
of positions of influence."  This view of group dynamics, as a network
rather than the formal hierarchy that may also be present (and which is a
part of that network), is a better description of group dynamics in both
chimps and humans (and other primates) than the idea of "male
{*filter*}".

Pn> If we judge male {*filter*} to be something we would like to change
Pn> then it is important to understand why it exist in the first place.  

Why?  I know, it was rhetorical, but then this is a rhetorical question.
;-)

Pn> It is analogous to understand the cause of a disease before you treat
Pn> it, otherwise you can only deal with symptoms.

Let's suppose that we have something (anything) that can be definitively
proven to be universal and to have existed during the entire span of
human evolution (and I've already shown that there are severe problems
with saying this of "male {*filter*}").  But let's suppose we do have
something like that: Other than "going after the symptoms", what on earth
COULD we possibly do about it, go back and re-evolve from something
else?  Neat trick, but I don't think it'll work.

If we have some trait that is definitively universal and has existed
during the entire span of human evolution, we can't possibly, in any
way, do anything BUT "deal with symptoms" (ie. deal with the present
situation).  We have to deal with the present situation because the only
alternative would be that re-evolving thing, and that's out.  

That's why the original statement (that we MUST admit that these things
are biological in origin before we can change them) should be seen as an
unexamined truism.  If finding out that such things are biologically
based is meant to simply show that changing the status quo is difficult,
then finding that out is a waste of time and effort, because we already
know it's difficult.  

So my original question to GF stands: Why do you say that we MUST know
this (assuming the basic premise [of universal male {*filter*}
throughout the entire span of human evolution] isn't fundamentally
flawed) before we can make changes?


 * Q-Blue 1.9 [NR] *



Fri, 05 Sep 1997 22:24:00 GMT
 Sociobiology Debate

Quote:
>> Ge> >Is the act of asking the question (Is there a biological basis for
>> Ge> >male {*filter*}?) a validation of male {*filter*}?

The manner of asking the question presumes male {*filter*}, but it doesn't
tell me what males are presumed to dominate.  Africans once dominated the
cotton picking trade, but I wouldn't have switched places with them.  If I
were a developing fetus, today, and I were given a choice of genders, I have
absolutely no doubt which gender I'd choose.  Say what you like about white,
male paranoia.  White females are the dominate class in this country, now.
They enjoy all the cultural benefits which their brothers enjoy (more, really)
and considerably greater legal protections.  The differences are particularly
acute on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.  Welfare moms may lead
unenviable lives, but not compared to their male counterparts.  Moms live in
the projects.  Dads live on the streets, in the homeless shelters, or in jail.

Only the pathologically feminist can fail to see the advantages of being a
women in the United States at the end of the twentieth century.

"Male {*filter*}" is clearly a political tactic these days, a lot like
"liberal media," and it's backfiring.  A lot of men who supported the women's
movement in the past are growing tired of the drumbeat.  Many women escaped
their traditional roles only to discover that they were happier within them,
so that now the women's movement struggles to preserve for women a range of
options encompassing traditional and nontraditional roles.  Meanwhile, men
are beginning to realize that the women's movement is as sexist as its name
suggests.



Sat, 06 Sep 1997 04:01:43 GMT
 
 [ 8 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. Considered Debate or Flippant Debate?

2. Feminist critique of sociobiology...critiqued

3. Zihlman and Sociobiology

4. Origin of the State & sociobiology

5. The Bell Curve (was: Suppression of Sociobiology)

6. A question for cultural anthropologists regarding sociobiology...

7. milk and human sociobiology

8. sociobiology

9. International Sociobiology Institute (ISI)

10. Human Sociobiology

11. Current status of sociobiology

12. Sociobiology of Harems vs Monogamy


 
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software