Biological Determinism Redux: Comment on Silverstein (1993)

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L. B. Silverstein (1993) criticizes some sociobiologists and psychologists for inferences that are not consistent with the more recent scholarship. In this commentary, it is shown that sociobiology is widely misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, sociobiologists are not determinists. Instead, most sociobiologists emphasize the important role of environmental factors in shaping the manifestations of endogenous tendencies (not imperatives). In addition, the empirical evidence (e.g., Lamb & Goldberg, 1992) fails to support the deterministic view that male primates are predestined to be uninvolved in child care. Even when correctly represented, however, it does not appear that sociobiology can play a useful role in directing public policy.

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