Samstag, 9. November 2013

Injustice, inequality and Evolutionary Psychology

Injustice, inequality and Evolutionary Psychology
Bruce G Charlton; 1997


As biological knowledge of "human nature" continues to grow, political theory and public  policy will increasingly need to take account of Evolutionary Psychology in order effectively  to pursue its goals. This essay stands as an example. Socio-economic differentials are  perceived to be unjust, but the reason for this is not obvious given the ubiquity of  stratification. It is suggested that "the injustice of inequality" has an basis in social  instincts that evolved to promote co-operation in small-scale, egalitarian hunter-gatherer  societies with immediate-return economies. Modern Homo sapiens has been  "designed" by natural selection to live in such societies, and has "counter-dominance"  instincts that are gratified by equal sharing of resources and an equal distribution of  resources.  However, there are also phylogenetically older "dominance" social instincts  (status-seeking, nepotism, mutual reciprocity) deriving from pre-hominid ancestors, and  these tend to create inequality under "modern" conditions of economic surplus. Therefore  human instincts and gratifications are intrinsically in conflict under contemporary  conditions. The radical implications of this analysis are explored. These include support  for a Berlin-esque view of politics as an endemic negotiation of irreducibly plural values;  a clarification of the deficiencies of right- and left-wing political theory; and a rationale for  politics to concentrate primarily on the "micro-level" psychology of subjective gratification  of individuals in their local context, rather than the conventional emphasis upon macro-level policies based on abstract statistical analysis of aggregated population variables. 

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