EVOLUTION AND HUMAN NATURE
The study of persons must begin with human nature.
The Christian church—by virtue of original sin, we are all
The book of Genesis—Adam’s and Eve’s original sin, passed
down from one human generation to the next.
All the word’s great religions—natural state of human is
fundamentally flawed in some manner, need a deliverance from
the original state.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Shelly and Keats—human nature is
fundamentally innocent and good, noble and pure at birth.
John Locke—human nature is a blank slate (tabula rasa), ready
to be shaped in to any form by environment.
Principles of Evolution
•A fundamental property of living things is that they propagate,
making for the continuity of life from one generation to the next.
Individual organisms are the product of a long chain of evolutionary events
whereby replicating systems essentially compete for limited resources,
successful systems can produce more viable copies for the next generation.
As environments change, designs of organisms change, not in direct response
to environmental changes but simply because some designs of organisms
will prove to be more successful in promoting replication than others.
All existing living forms have evolved over time in response to their
interactions w/ environments. Facing limited environmental resources for
survival and replication, organisms compete w/ one another, and ultimately
the “fittest” designs win out.
•The key to evolution over time is natural selection
Nature gradually selects those characteristics that promote survival and
reproductive success. Organisms possessing the advantageous characteristic
should live longer and produce more offspring.
In this way, nature selects and causes to persist, the most adaptive
characteristics in a species.
•Genes are responsible for the inheritance of characteristics.
•Genetic mutation may render the organism less left; may make for
accidental advantages (e.g. lactose tolerance)
•Through evolution, organisms have been designed to function such the
genes that lie behind those designs are replicated in subsequent
•The evolutionary imperative is to replicate the genes.
The selfish gene (Richard Dawkins)
Genes aim only for: self-replication. Persons are designed to
engage in behaviors that ultimately make for the replication of
the genes that determine their design.
•Two ways that persons can promote the likelihood of replicating in the
next generation those genes that are responsible for their very design
1) to generate and promote one’s own biological offspring
2) to promote the production and well-being of those who share the
e.g. a woman has no offspring, while her sister have six
more than a woman who bore two children but whose sister bore
•Altruism and self-sacrificial acts unexplained, until William Hamilton
introduced inclusive fitness.
--An organism’s inclusive fitness is its overall ability to maximize the
replication of the genes.
⇒Assisting, caring their kin and altruistic tendencies should be selected by
nature, functioned to enhance the inclusive fitness.
The Environment of Evolutionary
•A great deal of what makes humans distinctively human evolved to
adapt to life in the Pleistocene.
•Environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA)
--The Pleistocene world within which human beings lived and evolved.
Human lived in groups (survival value). Human beings are by
nature social animals because social life proved to be the most
propitious strategy for survival and reproductive success in
EEA Humans have been designed by natural selection to want
to be together in grps, to seek out bonds.
Disadvantage—competition and conflict
Human grps tend to be organized in hierarchical ways.
Different human grps developed different cultures, but the
cultures may have share many commonalities, reflecting share
adaptive challenges in the EEA.
E. O. Wilson
Each of these universal patterns can be traced back to hunting-
and-gathering societies, in which they promoted individual
survival and reproduction.