Ardrey's statements might be considered the beginning of what has been called evolutionary ethics,9 a genre developed with the next major scientific statement on the importance of hunting in the formulation of human nature. This theory was introduced in the mid-1970s by the famous Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson and other proponents of sociobiology. Wilson describes a number of behavioral traits that he claims are found in humans generally and are genetically based human universals. These include: (1) territoriality, (2) aggressive dominance hierarchies, (3) male dominance over females, (4) permanent male—female bonds, (5) matrilineality (female offspring stay with the troop they are born into while males leave to find a new social group when they reach sexual maturity), and (6) extended maternal care.10
The argument Wilson uses to support his idea that these traits are biologically fixed and genetically based characteristics is their relative constancy among our primate relatives—and their persistence throughout human evolution and in human societies. But, other than the last—extended maternal care—these behavioral characteristics are neither general primate traits nor human universals. Let's look at the first five, one by one.
Was this article helpful?