Maurizio Pisati

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Flesh and Blood and Genes. Bringing (Back) Nature into the Scientific Analysis of Social Phenomena

  • Abstract

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Keywords: methodology of the social sciences, naturalism, anti-naturalism, evolution, sociobiology, behavioral genetics, cognitive neurosciences.

The present paper introduces this issue's Symposium on the relationship between the social sciences and the natural sciences. It is argued that sociology, in the course of its development, has progressively turned its back on the full naturalistic approach to the analysis of social phenomena envisioned by the earliest originators of the discipline. By so doing, sociology has largely ignored the biological bases of human social behavior, missing the opportunity for a fuller understanding of social phenomena. Things, however, are starting to change: more and more sociologists are becoming aware of the advances in evolutionary biology, behavioral genetics, and cognitive neuroscience, and try to incorporate the findings of these disciplines in their research. The articles included in this Symposium suggest that sociology has much to gain from adopting a full naturalistic approach to the study of society, and indicate several ways in which a fruitful connection between the social sciences and the natural sciences can be re-established.

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