دانلود مقاله ISI انگلیسی شماره 8690
عنوان فارسی مقاله

روانشناسی تکاملی در اقتصاد محیط زیست: همسازی، مصرف و رضایت

کد مقاله سال انتشار مقاله انگلیسی ترجمه فارسی تعداد کلمات
8690 2002 15 صفحه PDF سفارش دهید 8130 کلمه
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عنوان انگلیسی
Evolutionary psychology in ecological economics: consilience, consumption and contentment
منبع

Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)

Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 41, Issue 2, May 2002, Pages 289–303

کلمات کلیدی
روانشناسی تکاملی - همسازی - مصرف - تندرستی
پیش نمایش مقاله
پیش نمایش مقاله روانشناسی تکاملی در اقتصاد  محیط زیست: همسازی، مصرف و رضایت

چکیده انگلیسی

This paper makes the case that if ecological economics seeks ‘consilience’ with biology it must acquaint itself with evolutionary theories about social development and human behaviour. The author reviews some of the literature in this area. Particular attention is paid to the newly emerging discipline of evolutionary psychology, which sets out a neo-Darwinian view of human nature in which individual and social behaviour is dominated by the evolutionary strategies of the ‘selfish gene’. The paper discusses the relevance of this perspective for two specific ‘problem areas’ in ecological economics. The first of these is the question of consumption and consumer behaviour. The second is the problem of ‘mismatch’ between the pursuit of economic growth and social well-being or contentment. These examples illustrate that evolutionary psychology may sometimes provide a natural ally for ecological economics, in particular pointing up certain failures of conventional economics. On the other hand, it also offers harsh lessons concerning the difficulty of changing evolved behaviour patterns. The paper suggests three possible avenues of response by ecological economists to the insights of evolutionary psychology.

مقدمه انگلیسی

On the tenth anniversary of the first ever issue of Ecological Economics, a specially-commissioned article by Gowdy and Ferrer-i-Carbonell provided a useful survey of contributions to the journal over the preceding decade. In it, the authors argued that the accumulated literature represents an exemplary contribution to what the biologist E.O. Wilson has called ‘consilience’ between different branches of knowledge. That is, they argued that ecological economics had contributed successfully to the promotion of an essential unity in knowledge, reflected in the insight that ‘the assumptions of one branch of knowledge should conform to the accepted facts of other branches of knowledge’ (Gowdy and Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 1999). The concept of consilience was first coined in an epistemological context by the philosopher William Whewell who wrote that “the Consilience of Inductions takes place when an Induction obtained from one class of facts coincides with an Induction obtained from another different class. This Consilience is a test of the truth of the Theory in which it occurs” (Whewell, 1840). In much the same spirit, Wilson has argued that “units and processes of a discipline that conform with solidly verifiable knowledge in other disciplines have proven consistently superior in theory and practice to units and processes that do not conform” (Wilson, 1998). Gowdy and Ferrer-i-Carbonell were mostly concerned to demonstrate the extent to which ecological economics has addressed Wilson's critique of the ‘hermetic’ nature of conventional economics. “In the spirit of consilience,” they write, “ecological economists have expanded the subject matter of utility theory by recognising the complexity and social context of human behaviour and likewise have expanded the economic theory of production by taking explicit account of the constraints imposed by the environment” (Gowdy and Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 1999). Thus, the bulk of the contributions to ecological economics included in the survey falls into what might broadly be called the ‘biophysical critique’ of modern economics flowing from the work of writers such as Georgescu-Roegen (1971) and Daly (1991). In addition, the review identifies a few contributions that attempt to use evolutionary concepts to enlighten our understanding of economics. Principally, such contributions flow from the concept of coevolution, which stresses (by analogy with certain kinds of biological relationships) the dynamical interdependencies within and between natural, social and economics systems (Gowdy, 1994 and Norgaard, 1994). Virtually absent, however, from this otherwise exemplary decade of literature is any discussion of the relevance to ecological economics of neo-Darwinian theories about human nature and social evolution.1 This omission is all the more surprising in view of the critical role occupied by such theories within Wilson's own conception of consilience. Nor is Wilson alone in suggesting that the evolutionary perspective is relevant to understanding the broad spectrum of human behaviour; and to the extent that human behaviour (and, in particular, consumer behaviour) is crucial to sustainable development, the absence of evolutionary theories of human nature from the literature of ecological economics is an omission of some importance. The present paper has three specific purposes. Firstly, it provides a brief historical review of evolutionary approaches to human behaviour and social psychology. In pursuit of this aim, the first section sketches out a brief overview of early evolutionary approaches to social theory. More importantly, the second section discusses the re-emergence of neo-Darwinian views of human nature during the late twentieth century, in the guise of ‘evolutionary psychology’, and sets out some of the fundamental assumptions and implications of this resurgent body of work. Next, the paper provides two specific illustrations of the way in which the insights of evolutionary psychology might be considered relevant (if not unequivocally useful) to ecological economics. The first of these illustrations is concerned with the critical light that evolutionary psychology throws upon our understanding of consumption and consumer behaviour. The second relates to the so-called ‘mismatch’ hypothesis, which seeks to explain the divergence between economic growth and human well-being or contentment, upon which many critics of modern industrial society (including a number of ecological economists) have commented. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of these case studies (and the generic project of evolutionary psychology) for ecological economics. In particular, it highlights three distinct ways in which ecological economists might seek to respond to the evolutionary psychology literature.

نتیجه گیری انگلیسی

This paper has reviewed a number of different approaches to understanding social evolution and human behaviour. In particular, it has examined in some depth the emerging science of evolutionary psychology and argued that it has some important lessons for ecological economics. Not all of these lessons are happy ones. Evolutionary psychology, for example, informs us that there is a clear evolutionary logic (albeit one which is now outdated in survival terms) behind the behaviour of human beings as consumers. In particular, the tendency to accumulate material goods for positional reasons appears to occupy a critical place in our evolved strategies for genetic success. On the other hand, evolutionary psychology reinforces one of the key insights of ecological economics, namely, that the institutions and conventions of modern society (and in particular of modern economic systems) are ill-suited either to defend the integrity of its environment or to enhance well-being. In fact, evolutionary psychology goes further than this to suggest that modern society is ill-suited to defend the long-term reproductive success of the gene pool. Thus, our failure to develop sustainable economies becomes, in the hands of evolutionary psychology, an emergent property of an evolutionary system (a coevolutionary system) in which genetic evolution has failed to keep pace with cultural evolution—a system, one might say, which appears to all intents and purposes to be fatally flawed! It seems to me that ecological economics faces three possible avenues of response to this stark message. The first is to accept the worldview of evolutionary psychology and to construe its lessons as casting serious—possibly even terminal—constraints on the project of conceiving sustainable development. The second is to accept the worldview of evolutionary psychology but to search within its constraints for ways of influencing human behaviour towards sustainable development. The third is to question (and perhaps reject) the epistemological basis of evolutionary psychology and the metaphysics that supports it. The first of these avenues is the one chosen, for example, by Morrison (1999) who casts humanity as a ‘plague mammal’, nature's ‘prattling prodigy’, rejects all notions of social or spiritual purpose, and suggests that the only relevant policy question is how to manage the inevitable collapse of the population curve. A perverse variation on the same theme is pursued by Easterbrook (1996) who argues that evolution is alive and well, and looks forward with something approaching glee to our eventual demise and the rise of the next super-species. Clearly this is a response whose legitimacy cannot be entirely ruled out, particularly on some readings of the available evidence. Nonetheless, its bleakness invites a potentially paralysing retreat into the philosophy of despair. The second alternative is the one favoured (of course) by those who broadly accept evolutionary psychology but recognise the need for changes in human behaviour if we are to achieve sustainable development. Those who take this line tend to focus mainly on the evolutionary arguments for altruistic, cooperative and affiliative behaviour patterns. They point in particular to the capacity for cultural learning and the potential for institutional reinforcement of sustainable behaviours (e.g. Wright, 1994 and Siebenhüner, 2000b). Perhaps the most promising clue to the potential benefits of this approach is the insight that the success of individual behavioural strategies depends crucially on the social environment. Thus, Wilkinson (2000) argues strongly in favour of reducing income inequality as a means to fostering affiliative, cooperative behaviour strategies, a policy that has clear resonance with the ecological economics agenda (Stymne and Jackson, 2000). Siebenhüner (2000b) points out, correctly in my view, that the lack of reciprocity between present and future generations limits the extent to which reciprocal altruism can be expected to deliver sustainable development. He suggests instead that hope lies in a revised concept of group selection articulated by Sober and Wilson (1998), in which survival rests on the characteristics and strategies of the group as a whole, rather than the behaviours of its individual members. It is, however, salutary to note Sober and Wilson's own cautionary reflections on the degree of promise that group selectionism holds on offer. “Group selection does provide a setting in which helping behaviour directed at members of one's own group can evolve;” they acknowledge. “However, it equally provides a context in which hurting individuals in other groups can be selectively advantageous. Group selection favours within group niceness and between group nastiness” (Sober and Wilson, 1998). Thus, even group selectionism appears to offer us no more optimistic vision of the prospects for social evolution than the one espoused by Gumplowicz, and it is difficult to see how much closer it takes us towards sustainable development. Within the evolutionary psychology worldview there appears to be no evolutionary mechanism capable of reliably thwarting the relentless pursuit of our own material interests and those of our social group–processes which lead ultimately to political conflict and environmental degradation. Some evolutionary psychologists have attempted to argue that religious or spiritual beliefs evolved precisely to provide a balancing mechanism at the super-social or planetary level. Wright (1994), for example, argues that Darwin himself ended up thinking of religion in this way. Others have pointed out, however, that such belief systems have never been successful either in preserving social cohesion or in protecting the environment. Morrison (1999) goes as far as to suggest that religious fervour evolved only to provide anaesthetic benefits to doomed civilisations—paralysing them from taking appropriate action to prevent their demise! A further variation on this second avenue of response is to argue for a decoupling of status from power, and in particular of status from control over material resources. Wright (1994) argues, somewhat perversely perhaps, that ‘in a monastery, serenity and asceticism can be sources of status’ and insists that ‘there are cultures and subcultures that try to put less emphasis on the material and more emphasis on the spiritual’ (op. cit. p. 61). But evolutionary psychology generally leaves us in no doubt that existing models of human behaviour remain far from this ideal. As a review of Ridley (1994) book trumpets: “animals and plants invented sex to fend off parasitic infection. Now look where it has got us. Men want BMWs, power and money in order to pair-bond with women who are blonde, youthful and narrow-waisted”. The final avenue of response is to reject evolutionary psychology out of hand. In deference to its depth and breadth, the critique of evolutionary psychology (and of evolutionary biology more generally) really deserves a survey paper of its own. Here it is perhaps enough to point the interested reader towards Hilary and Steven Rose's (Rose and Rose, 2000) colourful collection of essays. Broadly speaking, the contributors accuse evolutionary psychology of a variety of sins, including: failing to provide a secure epistemological basis for their predictions, indulging in faulty logic and loose reasoning, failing to distinguish appropriately between proximal and distal explanations, drifting into genetic determinism, and committing the ‘naturalistic fallacy’ of inferring ‘ought’ from ‘is’. The last of these accusations appears to offer some explanation for the ferocity with which evolutionary psychology and its predecessors (sociobiology and social Darwinism) tend to be countered. In a deliciously irreverent contribution to the Rose and Rose volume, Jencks (2000) notes how easily we slip ‘from what is likely, what is programmed by nature into us, what is an epigenetic rule, into believing it is something that cannot, in the long run, be resisted.’ In keeping with its intellectual predecessors, evolutionary psychology parades before it some remnant of the Spencerian notion of ‘the survival of the fittest’, along with the unsettling suggestion that competitive and aggressive behaviours are somehow justifiable on this basis. This, claims Jencks, ‘is the solecism that Consilience achieves, despite its author's disclaimers’ (op. cit. p. 44). In fact, Wilson does not so much slip into the naturalistic fallacy as revel in refuting its authority. “The posing of the naturalistic fallacy is itself a fallacy,” he insists. “For if ought is not is, then what is? To translate is into ought makes sense if we attend to the objective meaning of ethical precepts” (Wilson, 1998, p. 278). This is one of numerous passages in Wilson's Consilience in which we gain insight into his true agenda. “The main thrust of the consilience worldview,” he admits in the final chapter, “is that culture and hence the unique qualities of the human species will make complete sense only when linked in causal explanation to the natural sciences. Biology in particular is the most proximate and hence relevant of the scientific disciplines” (ibid p. 298). Thus, we are left in no doubt by Wilson (as by other proponents of evolutionary psychology) that the term consilience is not to be confused with the term conciliation. This is not so much about ‘unifying knowledge’ as claiming territorial advantage for a particular branch of knowledge. Ultimately the pluralism on which ecological economics has always prided itself may lead it to reject the kind of consilience that Wilson appears to demand. In the final analysis, perhaps, we need to take evolutionary psychology with a pinch of salt. Clever theories, according to this clever theory, may be nothing more than elaborate attempts to increase the sexual capital of the theorists (Miller, 2000). Nonetheless, it seems to me that ecological economics must take some position in relation to models of human behaviour. Certainly, it is not a coherent intellectual position both to claim Wilson's concept of consilience, as Gowdy and Ferrer-i-Carbonell (1999) do, and yet to reject the insights of evolutionary psychology. If one accepts the evolutionary psychology worldview, then there is clearly a difficult task ahead in formulating within it a concept of human and social agency compatible with sustainable development. If one rejects the evolutionary psychology worldview, as I suspect many ecological economists might wish to do, then we are faced with what is perhaps an even greater task: namely, the establishment of an epistemological and metaphysical basis for a more optimistic view of human nature.

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