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The Development of Sociobiology in Relation to Animal Behavior Studies, 1946–1975

Authors
  • Levallois, Clement1
  • 1 Emlyon Business School, 23, Avenue Guy de Collongue, Ecully, 69130, France , Ecully (France)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of the History of Biology
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Oct 06, 2017
Volume
51
Issue
3
Pages
419–444
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10739-017-9491-x
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This paper aims at bridging a gap between the history of American animal behavior studies and the history of sociobiology. In the post-war period, ecology, comparative psychology and ethology were all investigating animal societies, using different approaches ranging from fieldwork to laboratory studies. We argue that this disunity in “practices of place” (Kohler, Robert E. Landscapes & Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) explains the attempts of dialogue between those three fields and early calls for unity through “sociobiology” by J. Paul Scott. In turn, tensions between the naturalist tradition and the rising reductionist approach in biology provide an original background for a history of Edward Wilson’s own version of sociobiology, much beyond the William Hamilton’s papers (Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 1–16, 17–52, 1964) usually considered as its key antecedent. Naturalists were in a defensive position in the geography of the fields studying animal behavior, and in reaction were a driving force behind the various projects of synthesis called “sociobiology”.

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