Problems Facing Sociobiology
Sociobiology faces some significant foundational problems with their approach of genes determining
human behavior. A very brief review will show the questions being raised.
Because human beings are products or natural selection acting mindlessly over millions of years,
genetics has determined how the mind developed, from the basic cellular organization to the higher
order cognitive processes.
How the human mind filters and processes sensory information and produces responses like emotions
is a reflection of the evolutionary process. Such processing predisposes humans to make moral judgments.
Sociobiology, as a theory to explain the evolution of ethics, assumes that emotions are the basis
on which moral judgments are made. A person's moral sense of what is right or wrong is based on their
feelings and sentiments. Thus morality is a feeling of satisfaction of some type (such as admiration
or praise), when one considers morally correct behavior.
Sociobiologists cite brother-sister incest as evidence that some moral beliefs may be genetically
determined. They have observed that children, whether genetically related or not, who are in close
proximity of each other between the ages of birth to 6, find it impossible to sexually mate. The theory
is that because incest lowers genetic fitness, natural selection produced this biologically sensitive
period. Their hypothesis is as follows:
1. Inhibition of brother sister mating led to feelings that the practice was
2. Cultural taboos developed representing a cultural reinforcement of a practice
adverse to genetic self-interest.
This example, sociobiologists say, indicate that moral beliefs are not based on objective truth but
instead on the best interests of genes; in this context, according to sociobiologists, justified moral
beliefs are an illusion.
In this sense, sociobiology’s explanation of ethics and morality is actually moral skepticism.
If morality is a collective illusion of mankind maintained by natural selection to promote genetic
fitness, then wouldn’t exposing the illusion be destructive to the future of humans?
Now think about this: if all moral behavior is the illusionary consequence of genetic manipulation
to further genetic fitness, what is implied when all thoughts may be an illusion? Furthermore isn't it
contradictory to consider any objective truth if all thoughts originate from our genes?
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