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Political Dilemmas of Social Biology

01 Jul 2005-Vol. 34, pp 219-263
TL;DR: The first applications of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution topolitics and society produced a lush variety of ideas, most of them assumed by their creators to be directly implied by evolution, but which in their variety showed how indefinite the political implication of evolutionary theory were at that time.
Abstract: The announcement of Darwin’s theory of Evolution in 1859that the origin of all life forms could be explained by meansof a simply defined mechanical principle—natural selection operatingover geologic time spans—provoked responses rangingfrom frantic denial to curiosity to glorification of evolution as aphilosophy of life. Many thinkers and writers including politicalcommentators, social theorists and philosophers began to reconceptualizetheir respective areas of expertise in evolutionaryterms. The advantage of an evolutionary take on these subjectswere twofold, first a hoped-for but not always fulfilled increase inunderstanding brought about by the evolutionary perspective,and second the prestige of the newest theory of modern science—one which plainly had revolutionary implications and would addplausibility to whatever point of view such thinkers were advocating.The first applications of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution topolitics and society produced a lush variety of ideas, most of themassumed by their creators to be directly implied by evolution, butwhich in their variety showed how indefinite the political implicationsof evolutionary theory were at that time.
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TL;DR: The prevalence of organizational politics defines a need for human resource development programs to lessen dysfunctional politics as discussed by the authors, and organizations can act through individual and organizational development programs based on needs assessments to increase awareness of dysfunctional outcomes, discourage political behaviors, and encourage alternative practices.
Abstract: The human species possesses psychological attributes derived from evolutionary natural selection. This human nature has developed historically in adaptation to fundamental conditions that continue to exist in modern work organizations. Thus genetic predispositions can cause contemporary self-interested behavior amid organizational threats and opportunities. Select individual attributes and particular organizational conditions suggest specific political behaviors, represented here as theoretical propositions about organizational politics.The prevalence of organizational politics defines a need for human resource development programs to lessen dysfunctional politics. Organizations can act through individual and organizational development programs based on needs assessments to increase awareness of dysfunctional outcomes, discourage political behaviors, and encourage alternative practices. In addition, the human resources function can contribute organizationally by fostering positive organizational politics ...

34 citations


Cites background from "Political Dilemmas of Social Biolog..."

  • ...Increasingly DNA and gene research is uncovering connections among genes, hormones, and behavior (Caiazza, 2005)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This essay argues the inadequacy of the conventional model of natural selection for understanding politics, and suggests artificial rather than natural selection would be the concept that performs better for explaining the courses of politics in real society.
Abstract: The uses of natural selection argument in politics have been constant since Charles Darwin's times. They have also been varied. The readings of Darwin's theory range from the most radically individualist views, as in orthodox socio-Darwinism, to the most communitarian, as in Peter Kropotkin's and other socialist perspectives. This essay argues that such diverse, contradictory, and sometimes even outrageous political derivations from Darwin's theory may be partially explained by some incompleteness and ambivalences underlying Darwin's concepts. "Natural selection," "struggle for existence," and "survival of the fittest" are open concepts and may suggest some hierarchical and segregationist interpretations. Circumstantially, Darwin accepted social "checks," such as discouraging marriage of "lower" individuals to prevent them from reproducing, in a vein of Malthusian politics. This makes Darwin's theory of selection by struggle collide with his theory of social instincts, by which he explains the origins of morality. It also favors reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species or The Descent of Man from opposite, mostly ideological perspectives. Darwin's position is ambivalent, although hardly unreasonable. The recognition he makes of social instincts, as well as the use of the concept of artificial selection, entails accepting the role of human consciousness, by which social evolution cannot be reduced to natural evolution, as socio-Darwinians did next and as some neo-Darwinists seem to repeat. On these grounds, this essay argues the inadequacy of the conventional model of natural selection for understanding politics. If we want to describe politics in Darwin's language, artificial rather than natural selection would be the concept that performs better for explaining the courses of politics in real society.

9 citations

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What were the social and political implications of the Darwinian revolution?

The paper mentions that the political implications of evolutionary theory were indefinite at that time, indicating that there is no specific information about the social and political implications of the Darwinian revolution in the paper.