Thursday, November 06, 2003

More on Darwinian Politics

Sock Thief has some further comments on the role of evolutionary psychology. On the ethical front, I agree that EP can shed some light, but if we accept the fact-value distinction (and most evolutionary psychologists do), then it cannot provide any sort of empirical basis - which is what we're ultimately after. We can however use it to explain the origin of our ethical impulses, and to modify our ethical codes so that their demands are more in accordance with our ability to fulfil them. To the extent that our political theories are grounded in ethics (and most high-level political theory is), then the effects will also flow on to those theories.

As for examples of politics being grounded in psychological assumptions, I can think of no better example than the Right's persistent belief that we are (and ought to be) rational utility maximisers, despite the existence of a large body of experimental data to the contrary.