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Evolutionary Psychology and Law Encyclopedia Entry:

My new essay on "Evolutionary Psychology," which is forthcoming in the Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives, is now available on SSRN.

Here's the Abstract:

Abstract: This is the entry for "Evolutionary Psychology" in the Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives. This entry provides a summary and overview of the science of evolutionary psychology and its implications for the study of law. Understanding how evolution has shaped human nature and individual preferences can provide insight into how to use law to direct individual behavior in pro-social directions and away from anti-social behavior. This essay provides an overview of the science of evolutionary psychology, especially as it manifests itself in human proclivities for cooperation and conflict. In contrast to the Hobbesian view of human nature that implicitly underlies the modern understanding of law, evolutionary psychology provides several models of cooperation in the absence of law. But evolutionary psychology also provides insights into the nature of social conflict and the challenges this presents for legal regulation. Finally, the article describes the research program of law and evolutionary psychology, the testable hypotheses of evolutionary psychology, and the criteria for distinguishing evolutionary explanations of human behavior from legalistic and norms-based theories.

It's a short piece written for an encyclopeida, and given the vast scope of the subject it necessarily skims the surface and omits much nuance and many important issues. And despite the extensive references, the editors deleted many others, so allow me to apologize in advance if your favorites did not make the cut. Despite all this, I hope you find it useful.

M (mail):
On Law and Evolutionary Psychology this
seems to me to be closer to the right view.
2.2.2007 10:06am
M (mail):
Damned inability to put a link in properly.

Try this: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=892881
2.2.2007 10:06am
Manfred (mail):
M,

Can you square that paper's extreme skepticism regarding the biological causation of human behavior with this paper's extreme indulgence regarding the same causation? Perhaps we should reject both articles and search for a more nuanced position.
2.2.2007 10:17am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
It's an interesting perspective and worthy of further study. However, I am always wary about linking "evolution" and something as nebulous as psychology still is. In debating creationists and intelligent designers, I find that they often conflate the theory of evolution, which is amply supported by a variety of scientific methods, with other branches of thought, such as "evolutionary psychology", which are much more theoretical and far less capable of rigorous scientific proof.

I'm not sure what other word or phrase I would use to describe the field, and I'm not suggesting that we should always shape our language choices as a result of misunderstandings (willful or otherwise) of our intellectual opponents. But we should be aware of it, acknowledge the differences between the two fields, and be prepared to rebut the conflation.
2.2.2007 10:56am
LawPsych Student (mail):
I don't follow Manfred. The first paper critiques evolutionary psychology, the second relies on research in behavioral genetics. One has nothing to do with the other.
2.2.2007 12:07pm