Naturalism and feminism: Conflicting explanations of rape in a wider context
Author: Wheeler Vega, Jason A.
Source: Psychology, Evolution & Gender, Volume 3, Number 1, 20 June 2001 , pp. 47-85(39)
Abstract:A recent book on the evolution of rape (Thornhill and Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, MIT Press, 2000) has exacerbated hostile relations between evolutionists and feminists. This and earlier works, and critical responses by feminists, are considered in a broader context. Disagreements condense around several themes, including the contrast between science and ideology, hierarchies of explanation proposed by evolutionists, the use of metaphor and the word rape by evolutionists, mistrust of evolutionists' motives by feminists, and disagreements about what constitutes human nature. Although all are serious issues, chief among them is the problem of naturalism and its fallacies: what relation may empirical evidence bear to ethical and political policy? Naive poles of naturalism and anti-naturalism are criticized, and more temperate naturalisms are reviewed and recommended. The goal of synthesizing feminist and evolutionary accounts of rape is discussed as to its urgency and possibility.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 20, 2001