Social phenomena can have a biological or evolutionary explanation and such an assertion is compatible with a Durkheimian perspective. If such an assertion holds, then the possibility of a Durkheimian sociobiology is conceivable. Durkheim. s Rules of Sociological Method (1895) establishes the theoretical anchor, i. e. , . social fact. , and to what it refers. He argues that the nature of social phenomena is irreducible to other types of phenomena, in particular physiological and psychological.
As a result Lukes (1972) claims that Rules distinguish the social from the biological, egoistic from altruistic, which are from there on perceived as analytically distinct types of facts. Recent critiques suggest biological causes of social behavior are invisible or irrelevant to the social sciences (Tooby & Cosmides 1992; Udry 1994). While giving conceptual closure to a discipline, social fact as defined exclusively or predominately as a socio-environmental concept limits what can be of sociological interest.
In contrast to Durkheim. s perspective, critics assert that the evolutionary makeup of the individual is crucial to understanding social phenomena. By restricting the scope of social phenomena as irreducible to the individual, Durkheim undermines the importance of the individual in social causality and subsequently sidelines biological and psychological explanations as well. Tooby and Cosmides (1992) define the Standard Social Science Model as the .
view of the nature of social and cultural phenomena that has served for a century as the intellectual framework for the organization of psychology and the social sciences and the intellectual justification for their claims of autonomy from the rest of science (p. 23). Of course, Durkheim. s . social fact. attempts to theoretically assert the autonomy of sociology. Therefore, Durkheim. s Rules (1895) are directly tied to the Standard Social Science Model. In the Rules, Durkheim states: . individual natures are merely the indeterminate material that the social factors mold and transform (1932:105).
While Tooby and Cosmides recognize the Standard Social Science Model has value, they believe that its theoretical principles serve to isolate it from the other sciences. Criminal behavior Most theories and research of the causes of crime have failed to consider the substantial and relevant explanatory power of evolutionary theory. Darwin’s (1859) theory of evolution by natural selection is the uncontested foundation of research examining the behavior of other animal species, but many social scientists have been loath to apply it to humans.
Ellis makes an important contribution by demonstrating that evolutionary theory has the potential to offer unique insights into some general patterns of criminal behavior. He offers clear arguments about the relationship between social status and different forms of offending, identifying that parental status and individual status should be treated separately. Ellis also notes that evolution is not the only force affecting criminal behavior. The influence of the environment also is critically important.
As Ellis’s discussion of the effects of drug use on status makes clear, although the relative status of parents and their children is correlated positively, environmental influences can trump the heritability of social standing. Ellis points to the Y-chromosome as the source of some of the genes that lead to sex differences. There is some evidence in support of this hypothesis. Carruth, Reisert, and Arnold (2002), for example, found that XX and XY brain cells in mice differ in phenotype when the genetic sex of the brain is independent from the gonadal phenotype (testes or ovaries).
Others also have argued that sex differences could be the result of imprinted genes from one parent that are expressed in the offspring of one sex but not the other (see Burt & Trivers, 2006). Although we applaud Ellis for his efforts to unite criminology and evolutionary theory, there are some previous evolutionary theories of criminality that he overlooked. Ellis argues that his evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory is different from previous evolutionary theories because these previous theories did not address property crime.
Many scholars have, in fact, presented evolutionary explanations of property crime (e. g. Campbell, 2002; Kanazawa & Still, 2000; Mealey, 1995). In their research on homicide, Daly and Wilson (1988) use homicide as an “assay” of conflict. The logic that is the basis of their theoretical treatment of homicide also can be applied to other outcomes of conflict, such as instrumental violence to obtain resources, including property crimes. Ellis also overlooked Mealey’s (1995) work on psychopathy.
Many years prior to ENA theory, Mealey (1995) proposed specific evolutionary hypotheses for the origins of psychopathy and patterns of sex differences among psychopaths. Ellis argues that attaining high status in technologically advanced societies is more likely to be achieved using legal, sophisticated tactics than through a lifetime of criminal offending. Most industrialized nations have formal laws that punish criminal behavior and exhibit a cultural consensus that hinders criminal ascension of social status hierarchies. This is not true in all societies, however, and was likely not the case over much of human evolutionary history.
Ghengis Khan, King Niall of the Nine Hostages, Mao Tse Tung, Sadaam Hussein, and many other men that historians judge to be criminals enjoyed astonishing reproductive success until they died or were overthrown. For example, recent research indicates that as many as 1 in 12 Irishmen are direct descendants of warring King Niall (Moore, McEvoy, Cape, Simms, & Bradley, 2006). There were and are contexts in which behaviors that may be considered criminal are the most direct path to social status and dominance, even for individuals who are capable of achieving status through non-criminal behavior in other contexts.
For the most part, Ellis does not address whether the adoption of criminal behavior may be context-specific, activated strategically only in circumscribed situations. This may be linked to the absence of discussion in Ellis’s ENA theory of the psychological processes that organize and motivate behaviors. An exploration of the context-specificity of behaviors requires the specification of cognitive design features and greater attention to the many and complex factors that contribute to the adoption of criminal and non-criminal strategies to achieve desired goals.
Rather than exploring the psychological foundations of criminal behavior, Ellis focuses on the role of testosterone. Ellis states that, “males whose brains are exposed to the highest levels of testosterone are most likely to become life-course persistent offenders. ” This argument, however, is not consistent with much of the literature on the relationship between testosterone and violence (Archer, 1991; Sapolsky, 1998). Sapolsky (1998) argues, for example, that increases in testosterone do not cause aggression, but instead that increases in aggression lead to higher testosterone levels.
Even if testosterone is important, as Ellis argues, we also need to explore the design of the psychological architecture that reliably interacts with testosterone and the environment to produce criminal behavior. In “Evolutionary psychology and criminal behavior,” Anthony Walsh reviews an evolutionary psychological perspective on crime and antisocial behavior, much of which has been carried out by Walsh himself, along with his collaborator, Lee Ellis. This is probably the best review in this area; it is concise yet thorough, covering both major evolutionary criminological theories and key research findings.
Walsh’s chapter is full of gems (“An adaptation is a current feature with a past; a feature that is currently adaptive may or many not have a future,” p. 229) and astute observations (“Evolutionary approaches are fundamentally environmental in that they describe how environments, through natural selection, have shaped the behavior of organisms… ,” p. 227). As a former sociologist, however, I must disagree with Walsh’s statement that “criminology is perhaps the subdiscipline of sociology that has been most hostile to biology” (p. 226).
Walsh may be referring to the negative reaction of contemporary criminologists to some unfortunate episodes in earlier history of criminology, such as Lambroso’s hyper-biologism. Nonetheless, I have always thought that criminology and demography were the least hostile. Contrasting starkly with the other lucid and informative chapters in this volume, I am afraid that I do not understand Bernd Baldus’ chapter “Evolution, agency, and sociology. ” Baldus’ turgid prose, combined with his apparent lack of understanding of evolutionary biology, makes his chapter extremely difficult to penetrate.
For some reason, Baldus equates natural selection with “structure” and “determinism,” and sexual selection with “agency” and “free will” (probably because he erroneously believes that mate choice is entirely free of evolutionary constraints), and believes that culture is the product of sexual selection. Baldus believes that sociologists rejected Darwin because he gave too much emphasis on agency and free will, while sociologists preferred determinism and law-like causal relationships (pp. 276-277).
Baldus’ concept of “internal adaptation” appears no different from “learning,” and it therefore does not pass Occam’s razor. Baldus explains redundant, maladaptive, dysfunctional behavior in the current environment as a function of human “agency,” but EP can already explain it as a consequence of the disjuncture between the EEA and the current environment. I am sorry to say that Baldus’ approach makes no sense to me. His chapter appears to confirm my and Pierre’s view that sociologists, even those who appear sympathetic, just don’t understand evolutionary biology. The Biological Basis of Human Behaviour
An early argument in personality research was whether an individual’s personality was the result of heredity or environment. That is, was the personality predetermined at birth, or was it the result of the individual’s interaction with his or her environment? Therefore, the simple question to which an answer is required here is–“what determines personality”? This question has no single answer because different variables contribute to personality. There are however, four basic influences that can lead to personality formation: heredity, group membership, role, and situation.
The Influence of Heredity Heredity theorist suggest that individuals are born with differing capabilities or abilities; and human behaviour is influenced by the physiology and biology of the body. For instance, man inherits certain characteristics that influence his ability to perform certain acts, as well as a lot of mental abilities. Although the idea of biologically transmitted similarities is an old one, the idea as to the means of this transmission and its malleability by environmental influences has changed.
The contemporary ideas are grounded in research on genetics (a term first carried in 1905 for the science of heredity) has its origins in Mendel’s classic studies of cross-breading Peas (Marshall, 1996: 213). Gene is the fundamental unit of biological inheritance, and the underlying genetic structure of sexually reproducing species that combines in complex ways with a wide variety of environmental influences to produce individual outward appear-ance. Chromosomes, the nuclei of the body-cells of humans carry the genes, the basic units of material inheritance in man.
Galton (1869), while exploring the role of heredity in accounting for individual differences in personality and intelligence introduced the term eugenics in his explanation. Eugenics refers to the manipulation of the processes of evolutionary selection, in order to improve a particular genetic stock. Heredity determines body type, sex, characteristics of the muscular and nervous systems. For example, people may inherit varying potentials for reaction times, and tolerances for frustration. Characteristics like these influence an individual’s needs and expectations.
All these may affect an individual’s participation or nonparticipation in cultic activities. For instance, a physically weak youth (or a frustrated student) is occasionally driven to achieve feats of physical strength as a form of over compensation. Physical stature, gender, temperament, muscle composition and reflexes, energy level, and biological rhythms are characteristics generally, considered to be either completely or substantially influenced by who your parents were: that is, by their biological, physiological, and inherent psychological make-up.
An individual may therefore join a secret cult if membership of cults runs through the family. The heredity approach argues that the ultimate explanation of an individual’s personality is the molecular structure of the genes, located in the chromosomes. Another issue to address is – how does gene affect behaviour? The relationship of observable behaviour, the phenotype, to the understanding genetic structure, the genotype, is highly complex. The action of genes depends on the environment and the experience necessary for the genes to be exhibited in the phenotype.
It should be noted however that although the environment does not directly alter the genes, it can and does affect their expression in observable behaviour. Behaviour per se, is not inherited; whatever is it that is genetically transmitted is somehow coded into the chemistry of the individual genes. This genetic encoding influences behaviour in such a way that different genotypes, exposed to identical environments, turn out differently. The habitability concept refers to the extent to which differences in behaviour can be related to underlying differences in genes.
These comments are similar to the roles of nature and nurture, that is heredity and environment, in the development of human behaviour. Gene differences underlie variations in a diverse array of behaviours – activity levels, avoidance, conditioning rates, aggressiveness and dominance, and many other behaviour dimension (Wiggins et al. , 1976: 22). The basic factors in heredity, the genes, are constructed from a spiral molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and genes can act by controlling the synthesis of proteins.
Also what is inherited is a predisposition that biases behaviour development. The two common forms of predisposition are: differential succeptibility or the interaction of the genotype with its environment; and the selective exposure, or the correlation of genotype with its experience. Simply stated, differential susceptibility means that the effect of experience depends in part on the genotype to which the experience occurs. On the other hand, in selective exposure, the genotype will, in part, determine the nature of experience to which the individual is exposed.
The tendency for an individual who inherits the genes that may influence membership of a secret cult is determined by an enabling environment. Most behaviours of interest to personality study involve a combination of the two processes. An example is the association between muscular physique and delinquent behaviour. This is due to different factors. First, muscular strength, athletic prowess, and physical stamina are relatively direct consequences of gene action. Second, possession of these attributes, at least in certain subcultures will lead to a history of selective reinforcement for delinquent acts.
Thus the ultimate association between constitution and behaviour is a direct result of gene action and an indirect consequence of the selective exposure and differential reinforcement history of the delinquent behaviour. This joint influence of the genotype on developing behaviour may be called the “looking-glass” theorem: Differences in physique and behavioural predispositions (arising as relatively direct results of gene differences) create the stimulus for differential social learning, which tends to selectively reinforce the initial predispositions.
For instance, during the recruitment exercise into cult, a lot of factors are taken into consideration. One of such factors is the physical stature of a potential member. A member has to be well built in order to be able to withstand the rigors of initiation rites. He or she also needs to be strongly built to partake in physical exercises whenever, the need arises.