Evolutionary Psychology and the Social Sciences


This essay provides a general, nontechnical survey of the field of evolutionary psychology and discusses some of the implications of evolutionary psychology for law and the social sciences. The focus of the essay is on the "four paths to cooperation" in nature that have been identified by evolutionary psychologists. Through this discussion, the essay illuminates the importance of evolutionary psychology for a proper understanding of social norms, the state, constitutions, and the evolution of cooperation in the absence of culture, informal norms, legal rules, and political institutions. By understanding the evolution of cooperation absent these other forces it becomes possible to understand the sources and the importance of norms, rules, and institutions, at the margin. Discussion of these social institutions is incomplete without a grounding in evolutionary psychology. The essay concludes with a survey of developing issues in law and the social sciences that could be fruitfully studied through the lens of evolutionary psychology.