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Alfonso Troisi

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date: 24 June 2021

Referring to “natural behaviors” or “behaviors against nature” is common not only in the media but also in different professional fields dealing with human conduct. However, many assumptions about human nature that are taken for granted in social and human sciences are wrong when evaluated in light of recent discoveries in evolutionary behavioral biology. The aim of this chapter is to set the framework for an evolutionary analysis of the human mind and behavior and to summarize current knowledge on the evolution of Homo sapiens. Basic concepts of evolutionary biology (e.g., adaptation, ultimate versus proximate causation, genetic mismatch) are briefly explained, and their implications for a correct discussion of human nature are illustrated. The take-home message of the chapter is that a full understanding of the human mind and human behavior requires the integration of social and biological sciences, abandoning false dichotomies such as nature versus culture or instinct versus learning. This is a necessary step toward the practical implementation of ethical and legal systems more respectful of individual proclivities.

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