Chapter 9 - Evolutionary Psychology: A House Built on Sand

Peter T. Saunders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


While Darwinism has contributed much to our understanding of the living world, it has not given us an adequate account of why organisms are the way they are and how they came to be that way. For that we will need all of science, not just a single algorithm. The crucial contribution of Darwinism to biology is that it explains how we can have functional physical traits without a creator. This is less important in psychology because no one is surprised when people behave in ways that work to their advantage. Evolutionary psychology nevertheless follows the Darwinian model. It assumes from the outset that the brain is largely modular and that human nature is made up of a very large number of functionally specialized psychological mechanisms that have been constructed over time by natural selection. How much confidence one should have in its conclusions depends very much on how far one accepts its premises. 

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
EditorsRichard M. Lerner, Janette B. Benson
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • Epigenetic landscape
  • Evolution
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Genes
  • Natural selection
  • Neo-Darwinism
  • Problem of evil
  • Punctuated equilibria


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