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The Biology of Moral Systems Paperback – Dec 31 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Aldine Transaction; 1 edition (Dec 31 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780202011745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0202011745
  • ASIN: 0202011747
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,233,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


“Alexander is an evolutionary biologist with a mission. . . . Alexander does a nice job explicating the core notion of sociobiology: that human behavior must be seen from the perspective of the long-term reproductive consequences of that behavior. He gives useful explications both of the relationship between reproduction and senescence in understanding the human lifespan and of the ways in which cooperation and altruism can advance rather than hinder individual reproductive success. He also gives a good overview of the various positions biologists and moral philosophers have taken about the relevance of the work of the former to the theoretical efforts of the latter.”

—Arthur L. Caplan, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“Alexander’s thoughtful essay, with applications to pressing modern dilemmas, like the rights of embryos and the arms race, deserve a reflective reading.”

—Jerome Kagan, American Scientist

“Alexander’s originality and breadth of thinking make for interesting, sometimes fascinating reading on a series of topics that will concern all anthropologists.”

—Christopher Boehm, American Anthropologist

“Anyone who is interested in seeing a naturalistic, gene-oriented version of evolutionary theory applied to human beings in great detail and the systems of morality constructed in the absence of such a perspective dismantled with single-minded ruthlessness will want to read Alexander’s book.”

—David L. Hull, The Quarterly Review of Biology

“Sociologists are likely to suggest that Émile Durkheim was interested in societies as moral systems and would want to bring his work into the discussion. Alexander has presented us with a rich context for such dialogue.”

—Kenneth Bock, American Journal of Sociology

“There are a great many arguments and hypotheses in Alexander’s book.”

—Andrew Oldenquist, Mind

“However much social scientists might disagree with Alexander, they can ignore him only at their own peril. The picture he draws of us is none to flattering, but it seems a good likeness, on the whole.”

—Pierre L. van den Berghe, Contemporary Sociology

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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.7 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
Tim Tyler
5.0 out of 5 starsFoundational work on evolutionary psychology / sociobiology - but blind to culture
January 4, 2015 - Published on
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10 people found this helpful.
Herbert Gintis
4.0 out of 5 starsA great book with an outdated model of human behavior
November 1, 2000 - Published on
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47 people found this helpful.

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