A new synthesis: Resituating approaches to the evolution of human behaviour

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Most anthropologists would agree that humans are simultaneously historical, biological, behavioral, and social. However, many researchers retain a relatively dualistic paradigm dividing anthropological questions into biological and/or social aspects. Many practitioners of Neo-Darwinian perspectives prioritize natural selection in all explanations of human evolution. Many other anthropologists refuse to acknowledge a significant role for biological features and biological histories in human action, sensation, and engagement. Both perspectives are misplaced. Incorporating emerging perspectives in evolutionary theory into the broader anthropological discourse may help discard simplistic dualisms and resituate our assessments of the evolution of human behavior. In this essay I review three major emergent themes in evolutionary theory; Multi-Inheritance Systems Theory, Developmental Systems Theory, and Niche Construction. I suggest, with one brief example, that placing these elements in transaction with other perspectives in anthropology might enhance the possibilities of assessing human evolution and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-17
Number of pages6
JournalAnthropology Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology


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