Contemporary evolutionary theory in history & systems coursesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread
How much attention should be given to contemporary evolutionary theory in history & systems books or courses?
-- Paul R. Kleinginna (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001
I don't know that there is any answer to "should" questions like this. I would suggest, however, that it depends on how "contemporary" you mean, and how "contemporary" the rest of course material is.
Evolutionary theory has, of course, long had an important impact on the development of psychology -- Galton's interest testing is directly related to his eugenics program, which in turn grew out of his interest in "cousin Charles'" work. Chicago functionalism is inexplicable without evolutionary theory. The "comparison" implicit in comparative psychology is only reasonable when backed with evolutionary assumptions (otherwise it's just animal psychology).
With the rise of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology in the past couple decades, it would seem that evolutionary theory plays an even greater role in psychology, and thus justifies even more evolutionary content in history of psychology courses. But there's still so much else to cover... :-)
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
I believe professors should have domain (within reasonable limits) over their course content - we are not teachers who "teach" a set curriculum - we are professors, who "profess" our points of view. Thus, my concrete answer to your question would be as much as the professor desires to cover. In terms of my own perspective, however, I would like to see a good deal more of it. Unless one holds to a tabula rasa theory of behavioral development, genes play an influential role in ontogeny and genes are fashioned by evolution. Students should know the history and contributions of the theory. (If you want to read more, send an email to Maryanne Fisher (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will post back a copy of a book chapter we have in press on the historical and contemporary role of evolutionary theory in psychology)
-- Irwin Silverman (email@example.com), April 01, 2001.
I certainly feel it should be covered, if only because it's an excellent example of the contingent nature of theory development in psychology. Looking historically, we can see a range of socio- political forces driving the acceptance or otherwise of evolutionary perspectives. Arguably, similar forces are acting in contemporary psychology. Discussing contemporary evolutionary theory thus provides a good forum for showing the relevance of historical analysis to understanding the present.
-- Dai Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 15, 2002.