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Lecture 1

PSYC 3100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Theodosius Dobzhansky, Naturalistic Fallacy


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3100
Professor
Pat Barclay
Lecture
1

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LECTURE 1: INTRODUCTION
“Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” – Theodosius
Dobzhansky
o Evolution helps us to understand how all of biology ties together
o A theory unites the facts
Evolutionary Theory
Unites the biological sciences
Makes sense of disparate facts in nature
Is extraordinarily powerful at predicting new findings
What is Evolutionary Psychology?
Use of evolutionary theory as the foundation for studying brains and behaviour
Link between the natural sciences and psychology (ideally with the social sciences too)
Draws from biology, zoology, psychology, anthropology, economics
NOT a sub discipline of psychology it’s a paradigm for all of psychology
Evolutionary theory unites the old psychological findings and helps predict new ones
Argue that “nothing in psychology or cultures makes sense except in the light of
evolution”
What topics are covered in this course?
Kinship, Cooperation, Mating, Parenting, Individuality, Conflict, Uniquely human
behaviours
Gene’s Eye Perspective
Genes replicate information; they are replicators
o Tell us how to build proteins
Genes that are more prevalent now are the ones that were best at propagating
themselves in prior generations
What can a gene do to aid its own propagation?
o Help build a good body (a “vehicle”), possibly including a good brain
o Extract information from the environment and respond appropriately
o Help its body or other bodies carrying a copy of itself to survive and
reproduce
Possible misinterpretations with “Gene Language”
Shorthand talk
o A gene for X
A gene or set of genes that code for proteins that act as a part of a
developmental process that, given a relatively normal rearing
environment builds (possibly with crucial input from the environment) a
brain or body in which X is more likely to occur than would have been the
case had the organism possessed an alternate gene or set of genes at
those loci
o A gene or organism wants X
A gene that causes (however indirectly) X to occur is more likely to be
passed on than a gene that does not cause X
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