Sociobiology and political ideology: Comments on the radical point of view

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Abstract

Political abuse of scientific research is a real danger in many domains of science. The case of sociobiology in particular needs extra alertness, by its scientific users as well as by its critics. Dissociation from any political exploitation of selected sociobiological hypotheses is an important intellectual duty for users of sociobiological reasoning. Leading sociobiologists appear to know their responsibility in this respect. However, depicting sociobiology as a new form of social Darwinism, which in essence is the conclusion of radical criticism, is a much more important source of bad reputation of sociobiology than actual political abuse itself. Projecting rightwing political claims in sociobiology as a theory is serving as a method to mobilize support against research which tries hard not to confuse the biological fact of inequality with the political right to equal treatment. In this article it is argued that critical use of sociobiological theory should not be too timid and defensive regarding charges of political abuse. Defensiveness helps to maintain an atmosphere in which guilt by association is preventing further development of sociobiological research. © 1984 Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Falger, V. S. E. (1984). Sociobiology and political ideology: Comments on the radical point of view. Journal of Human Evolution, 13(1), 129–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0047-2484(84)80083-4

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