Journal Article

An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

Edouard Machery and Kara Cohen

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 63, issue 1, pages 177-226
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr029
An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

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The disagreement between philosophers about the scientific worth of the evolutionary behavioral sciences (evolutionary psychology, human behavioral ecology, etc.) is in part due to the fact that critics and advocates of these sciences characterize them very differently. In this article, by analyzing quantitatively the citations made in the articles published in Evolution & Human Behavior between January 2000 and December 2002, we provide some evidence that undermines the characterization of the evolutionary behavioral sciences put forward by their critics.

1Four Claims about the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

  1.1The disparaging characterization

  1.2Evolutionary behavioral scientists’ acquaintance with the biological sciences and with evolutionary biology

  1.3Evolutionary behavioral scientists and the evolutionary biology of the 1960s and 1970s

  1.4Evolutionary behavioral scientists and sociobiology

  1.5The homogeneity of the evolutionary behavioral sciences

2Quantitative Citation Analysis

  2.1The usual philosophical method

  2.2Quantitative citation analysis

  2.3Operationalizing the controversy

  2.4A plea for quantitative analyses

3Methods and Preliminary Analyses

  3.1Methods

  3.2Analysis by publication date

  3.3Analysis by authors’ disciplinary affiliation

4Hypothesis 1: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Sufficiently Influenced by Biology in General and by Evolutionary Biology in Particular?

5Hypothesis 2: Are Evolutionary Behavioral Scientists Unduly Influenced by the Evolutionary Biology of the 1970s?

6Hypothesis 3: What is the Relation between Sociobiology and the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences?

7Hypothesis 4: Do the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences Divide into Competing Paradigms?

8An Evidence-based Characterization of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

Journal Article.  15180 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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