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Human Nature: A Critical Reader


Human Nature: A Critical Reader Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Human nature" has meant many things to many people. Why do we do what we do? Before 1859, when Darwin published The Origin of Species, the meaning of "human nature" was anybody's guess. This book collects the first, classic tests of Darwinian theory on us — including studies of traditional societies (from the !Kung of Botswana to the Ache of Paraguay), studies of modern societies (from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to southern California), and comparative and historical studies (from the ancient Near East to imperial Rome). These classics are interspersed with new critiques — both by the authors themselves, and by biologists who used modern Darwinian theory to pioneer field studies, cognitive studies, and comparative studies of other species. Last but not least, Human Nature adds an introduction which covers the basics in evolutionary theory, and reviews cutting-edge tests of that theory on human anatomy, physiology, emotions, thought, and interactions.

This pathbreaking book collects the best of the first tests of Darwinian theory on humans, critiques them, and comprehensively reviews the work being done now. It is an ideal - and long needed - text for courses in biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, history, and philosophy which use Darwin's theory to explain what we do and who we are.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 427-476) and index.

Table of Contents



1. People are animals, Laura Betzig


2. Critique: Inward and outward: mind gets at behavior, behavior at mind, Alejandro Kacelnik and John Krebs

3. Classic: Cultural and biological success, William Irons

4. Critique: Looking back two decades, William Irons

5. Classic: Inuit foraging groups: some simple models incorporating conflicts of interest, relatedness, and central place sharing, Eric Alden Smith

6. Critique: Sex is not enough, Eric Alden Smith

7. Classic: Bushman birth spacing: a test for optimal interbirth intervals, Nicholas Blurton Jones

8. Critique: Too good to be true?, Nicholas Blurton Jones

9. Classic: Life histories, blood revenge and warfare in a tribal population, Napoleon Chagnon

10. Critique: Sticks and stones

11. Classic: Kipsigis women's preferences for wealthy men: evidence for female choice in mammals?, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder

12. Critique: Marrying a married man, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder

13. Classic: The evolution of premature reproductive senescence and menopause in human females: an evaluation of the 'grandmother hypothesis', Kim Hill and Ana Magdalena Hurtado

14. Critique: How much does grandma help?, Kim Hill and Ana Magdalena Hurtado


15. Critique: Forward and backward: alternative approaches to studying human social evolution, Paul Sherman and Hudson Kern Reeve

16. Classic: Child abuse and other risks of not living with both parents, Martin Daly and Margo Wilson

17. Critiqye: Cinderella revisited, Martin Daly and Margo Wilson

18. Classic: Sex differences in human mate preferences: evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures, David Buss

19. Critique: Just another brick in the wall, David Buss

20. Classic: Sex differences in sexual fantasy: an evolutionary psychological approach, Bruce Ellis and Donald Symons

21. Critique: Unobtrusive measures of human sexuality, Donald Symons, Catherine Salmon and Bruce Ellis

22. Classic: Evolution, traits, and the stages of human courtship: qualifying the parental investment model, Donald Kenrick, Edward Sadalla, Gary Groth and Melanie Trost

23. Critique: Where and when are women more selective than men?, Douglas Kenrick, Edward Sadlla, Gary Groth and Melanie Trost

24. Classic: Evolutionary analysis of psychological pain of rape victims, Nancy Wilmsen Thornhill and Randy Thornhill

25. Critique: Rape-victim psychological pain revisited, Randy Thornhill

26. Classic: Cognitive adaptations for social exchange, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby

27. Critique: Think again, John Tooby and Leda Cosmides


28. Critique: Tips, branches and nodes: seeking adaptation through comparative studies, Ruth Mace and Mark Pagel

29. Classic: Paternal confidence and dowry competition: a biocultural analysis of purdah, Mildred Dickemann

30. Critique: Cleo unveiled, Mildred Dickemann

31. Classic: Polygyny and the inheritance of wealth, John Hartung

32. Classic: If I had to do over, John Hartung

33. Classic: Cross-cultural patterns in the training of children, Bobbi Low

34. Critique: Comparing Snakes and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails to Sugar and Spice: Reflections on Cross Cultural Testing of Hypotheses, Bobbi Low

35. Classic: Dowry as female competition, Steve Gaulin and James Boster

36. Critique: When are husbands worth fighting for?, Steve Gaulin and James Boster

37. Classic: Roman polygyny, Laura Betzig

38. Critique: Why a despot?, Laura Betzig

39. Classic: Fitness tradeoffs in the history and evolution of delegated mothering with special reference to wet-nursing, abandonment, and infanticide, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

40. Critique: Mainstreaming Medea, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Product Details

Betzig, Laura
Oxford University Press, USA
Betzig, Laura
null, Laura
Betzig, Laura
New York :
Sociology - General
Anthropology - Cultural
Human behavior
Physical anthropology
Anthropology | Biological
Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology
Anthropology | Biological & Physical Anthropology
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
74 illus.
9.23x6.54x.97 in. 1.71 lbs.

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