chapter  12
12 Pages

A Consideration of the Genetic Foundation of Human Social Behavior

WithEdward O. Wilson

Sociobiology is the systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior in all kinds of organisms. Sociobiological theory envisions three alternative outcomes in the evolution of human social behavior. These include: human populations have exhausted their genetic variability and hence are uniform with respect to the genes affecting social behavior, yet the genes prescribe at least some of the behavior; and genetic uniformity has been reached. These also include: the genes prescribe only the capacity for transmitting culture; there is some genetic variability and the genes influence at least some forms of social behavior. Homo sapiens appears to be a typical animal species with reference to the quality and magnitude of the genetic diversity affecting its behavior. Traits as complex as the attributes of social behavior are influenced by many genes, each of which shares only a small fraction of the total control. Genetic determinism is a perilous concept in the realm of the social sciences.