The evolution of certain novel human capacities

Paul Bloom

in The Descent of Mind

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780192632593
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670497 | DOI:
The evolution of certain novel human capacities

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This chapter addresses what it sees as the most serious attack on evolutionary psychology. This attack concerns the proper explanation of certain complex human capacities. The chapter suggests that theories that reject the tenets of evolutionary psychology fail to explain how these capacities evolved. Instead, the most likely explanation emerges from a modular adaptationist perspective on the mind. The answer is that natural selection is the only known explanation for adaptive complexity. Adaptively complex entities are ubiquitous in nature. Charles Darwin's fundamental accomplishment was to show how a non-intentional process can give rise to good design. Some psychologists and linguists are sceptical about how important a role natural selection plays in the shaping of organisms. Stephen Jay Gould is the most prominent critic of the purported excesses of adaptationism. There are thus two sources of good design. The first is natural selection, and the second is human creative powers, as exemplified in science and technology.

Keywords: evolutionary psychology; human capacities; natural selection; adaptive complexity; Charles Darwin; non-intentional process; good design; Stephen Jay Gould; adaptationism; human creative powers

Chapter.  8744 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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