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E. O. Wilson, a central figure in the history of sociobiology.

Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the hypothesis that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context.


  • I believe that human preferences came to be what they are in those millions of years in which our ancestors (whether or not they can be classified as human) lived in hunting bands and were those preferences which, in such conditions, were conducive to survival. It may be, therefore, that ultimately the work of sociobiologists (and their critics) will enable us to construct a picture of human nature in such detail that we can derive the set of preferences with which economists start. And if this result is achieved, it will enable us to refine our analysis of consumer demand and of other kinds of behaviour in the economics sphere.
    • Ronald Coase, "The Firm, the Market, and the Law", in The Firm, the Market and the Law (1988)
  • Even God cannot make two times two not make four.
    • Hugo Grotius, as quoted in Delbert D. Thiessen (ed.), A Sociobiology Compendium: Aphorisms, Sayings, Asides, p. 18
  • Sociobiology reduces the human to the animal instead of observing how the animal becomes human.
    • Harvey Mansfield, How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science (2007)
  • Wilson clearly laid down a radical biosociological research programme, claiming that sociology should be reduced to biology. This idea has profoundly influenced sociobiology and its reception in the larger public. Because of his claims to 'biologicize' culture and even ethics and the changes in evolutionary biology, which he at least co-provoked, sociobiology was soon singled out for criticism. But this challenge to other subject areas also inspired interesting new theories for instance in psychology or in philosophy.
    • Momme von Sydow, From Darwinian Metaphysics Towards Understanding the Evolution of Evolutionary Mechanisms (2012).
  • That biological evolution has an arrow -- the invention of more structurally and informationally complex forms of life -- and that this arrow points toward meaning, isn't, of course, proof of the existence of God. But it's more suggestive of divinity than an alternative world would: a world in which evolution had no direction, or a world with directional evolution but no consciousness. If more scientists appreciated the weirdness of consciousness -- understood that a world with sentience, hence without meaning, is exactly the world that a modern behavioral scientist should expect to exist -- then reality might inspire more awe than it does.

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