Are humans inherently good? The prevailing view in popular and scientific literature is that humans and animals are genetically driven to compete for survival, thus making all social interaction inherently selfish. According to this line of reasoning, known as sociobiology, even seemingly unselfish acts of altruism merely represent a species’ strategy to survive and preserve its genes. But Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, argues that this is a narrow and simplistic view of evolutionary theory that fails to explain many aspects of sociality among mammals in general and primates in particular. In “The Origins and Nature of Sociality,” a new book Sussman co-edited, he and other researchers challenge the proponents of sociobiology. “The ‘selfish gene’ hypothesis is inadequate,” Sussman says.
Everett Mendelsohn, one of America’s foremost historians of science, will deliver the Thomas Hall Lecture titled “Dolly and the Historians: Science, Politics and Ethics of Cloning” as part of the Washington University Assembly Series at 4 p.m., Thursday, November 13. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in Rebstock Hall, Room 215, located just east of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd) on the Washington University campus.