Development, Evolution, and the Mind

SES/Pl 169 Selected Topics in Science, Ethics and Society: Evolution, Development, and the Mind

Course Description. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in uncovering the structure of the mind through evolutionary analyses. These approaches, however, do not consider how evolution might act to shape the structure of the mind through alterations to the mind's development. In this course, we explore the implications of this neglect by considering the relationship between evolution, development, and the mind. Topics covered include the question of innateness, evolved social strategies, the structure of personality, the nature of self, and the relation between mind and brain. Instructor: Quartz,

Tuesdays, 7pm in 218 Baxter

Course Requirements:

1. weekly: 100 word summary of readings and discussion question submitted to prior to class;

2. One 4,000 word paper; 2 2,000 word papers on topic chosen in consultation with instructor.


1. Brain Overview

2. From Sociobiology to Evolutionary Psychology

Capareol, L. Evolutionary Psychology: Toward a Unifying Theory and a Hybrid Science

Tooby & Cosmides, Evolutionary Psychology and the Brain

Buss, D,. Human Nature and Culture

Tattersall, I. Evolution, Genes, and behavior

3. Revisiting the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation

Potts, R. Environmental hypotheses of hominin evolution

Richerson & Boyd, Was agriculture impossible during the Pleistocene but mandatory during the Holocene? A climate change hypothesis

NEW READING R. Byrne, Evolution of Primate Cognition. Mainly for section on Machiavellian Intelligence.

Sugggested reading (not mandatory, but a good reevaluation of the notion of "human revolution"): McBrearty et al.: The Revolution that Wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior.

4. NO CLASS 4/22

5. Alternative Synthesis I: from Population Genetics to Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Quartz, S. Toward a Developmental Evolutionary Psychology: Genes, development, and the evolution of cognitive architecture

Arthur, W. The emerging conceptual framework of evolutionary developmental biology

6. Alternative Synthesis II: From Nativism to Neural Constructivism

Quartz, S. The Constructivist brain (start here)

Sur & Leamey, Development & Plasticity of Cortical Areas and Networks

Kahn and Krubitzer, Massive cross-modal cortical plasticity and the emergence of a new cortical area in developmentally blind mammals (this is a more technical paper--inserted here as an interesting experiment)

7 . Culture and Mind (note: I've rearranged weeks 7 & 8)

Whiten et al., Chimpanzee Cultures

Caldwell, C. & Whiten, A. Evolutionary perspectives on imitation: is a comparative psychology of social learning possible?

Tomasello, M. Culture and Cognitive Development

Donald, Precis of The Origins of the Modern Mind


8 (5/20). Human Universals vs. Human Variation in Behavior-I

[note: I've rearranged the last 2 classes to discuss wider implications and attempts to understand human social behavior; week 9 will look at reproductive behavior, week 10 economic behavior]

Buss, D. Desires in Human Mating

Little, A. Partnership status and the temporal context of relationships influence human female preferences for sexual dimorphism in male face shape

Freese, Seven tenths incorrect: Heterogeneity and change in the waist-to-hip ratios of Playboy centerfold models and Miss America pageant winners


9. (5/27). Human Universals vs. Human Variation in Behavior-II

Henrich et al., Economic Man’ in Cross-cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-scale Societies