chapter  1
22 Pages

The Development of Sociobiology: A Biologist’s Perspective

WithGeorge W. Barlow

Seldom has a field of science excited so much enthusiasm as has sociobiology while at the same time inspiring such vituperation. To biologists working in sociobiology the term signifies a strict application of evolutionary theory to the social behavior of animals. The evolutionary genetic approach to explaining the social behavior of animals is growing with remarkable speed and extends well beyond the foregoing. The genetic models need testing within the framework of models coming from ecology. While population genetics and ecology were evolving, ethology was coming into being. Ethology is used extensively to provide explanations in the form of underlying behavioral mechanisms. Most biologists in these areas would accept the three themes, evolutionary theory, ecology, and ethology, as roughly defining sociobiology. Social scientists have concerned themselves with the ecological basis of human behavior, and human ethology is a growing field.