In The Triumph of Sociobiology, John Alcock reviews the controversy that has surrounded evolutionary studies of human social behavior following the 1975 publication of E.O. Wilson's classic, Sociobiology, The New Synthesis. Denounced vehemently as an "ideology" that has justified social evils and inequalities, sociobiology has survived the assault. Twenty-five years after the field was named by Wilson, the approach he championed has successfully demonstrated its value in the study of animal behavior, including the behavior of our own species. Yet, misconceptions remain – to our disadvantage.
In this straight-forward, objective approach to the sociobiology debate, noted animal behaviorist John Alcock illuminates how sociobiologists study behavior in all species. He confronts the chief scientific and ideological objections head on, with a compelling analysis of case histories that involve such topics as sexual jealousy, beauty, gender difference, parent-offspring relations, and rape. In so doing, he shows that sociobiology provides the most satisfactory evolutionary analysis of social behavior today.
1 What Is Sociobiology?
2 What Sociobiologists Study
3 Sociobiology and Genes
4 Sociobiology and Science
5 Science and Reality
6 What Have Sociobiologists Discovered?
7 The Problem with Cultural Determinism
8 Sociobiology and Human Culture
9 The Practical Applications of Sociobiology
10 The Triumph of Sociobiology
"It doesn"t matter whether you call it sociobiology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology or even selfish genery, John Alcock shows that triumph is exactly the right word. It is a field of research in its mature growing season, with new young scientists flocking to join in. Alcock captures the active spirit of this once-controversial subject perfectly."
– Richard Dawkins
"I can't wait to show this to my sociologist colleagues [...] Alcock's text is a triumph in itself."
– ISBE Newsletter
"The Triumph of Sociobiology is a rather different book, which can be read profitably by interested laypersons, students, and experts alike"
– Human Nature
"The Triumph of Sociobiology is a clear, evocative, and accurate account of the history and content on the subject and the general reader alike"
– Edward O. Wilson, Harvard Universit"
"Darwinist heavyweight Alcock understands what's at stake in evolution as well as any scientist living [...] The author argues against the competing blank-slate 'culture is all' theory, and he dispels the misconception that sociobiology is in any way an ideological endorsement of racism, sexism or the social dominance of the rich over the poor [...] This is an important and necessary reappraisal of humankind's place in the Darwinist puzzle – one that will undoubtedly provoke renewed debate."
– Publishers Weekly