Can there ever be a non-specific adaptation? A response to Simon J. Hampton.

Article


Dickins, Thomas E. 2005. Can there ever be a non-specific adaptation? A response to Simon J. Hampton. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 35 (3), pp. 329-340.
AuthorsDickins, Thomas E.
Abstract

Recently Hampton (2004) has argued that natural selection could have equipped the human mind with a set of adaptations for nothing in particular. In this way Hampton challenges the current orthodoxy of Evolutionary Psychology, which claims the mind is a collection of domain-specific cognitive mechanisms. This paper outlines the core of Hampton’s thesis as well as the key commitments of Evolutionary Psychology. This is followed by a discussion of the principal levers of Hampton’s argument, which are the problems of uncertain futures and of social novelty. Both of these problems pertain to flexibility in the face of new inputs, and Hampton claims that our ability to deal with such situations is indicative of an underdetermined, yet evolved, cognitive architecture. This paper rejects these problems on the grounds that they are misconstrued; a system that can process an input can only do so if it is prepared to do so, therefore true novelty would defeat an organism. This rejection is more formally expressed in terms of information theory, and the various consequences of this conception are drawn out. The paper concludes with some comments about the appropriate grain of analysis for evolutionary theory within the behavioural sciences.

KeywordsEvolutionary Psychology; natural selection
JournalJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Journal citation35 (3), pp. 329-340
ISSN0021-8308
Year2005
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-ND
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5914.2005.00275.x
http://hdl.handle.net/10552/592
Publication dates
Print2005
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Feb 2010
Additional information

Citation:
Dickins, T.E. (2005) ‘Can there ever be a non-specific adaptation? A response to Hampton’ Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 35 (3) 329-340.

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