Thorns among Roses

July 28, 2000

It is a bit rich of Herbert Gintis to warn about "a generation of leftist intellectuals" (Letters, THES, July 21).

Has he abandoned his intellectual and political past? Is there to be no more Marxist writing on the economics of education? Gintis claims that Alas Poor Darwin is a rant by us and "postmodern friends", unproductively censoring evolutionary psychologists.

Has he read beyond the book jacket? There he would have spotted that a) not all the authors are of the left and b) they do not share a common epistemological approach. Only two of 17 authors can be described as "postmodernist".

Nor is the book only a set of critiques. More than half the authors attempt to provide alternative frameworks within which to view genetics, evolution, development and behaviour from that offered by evolutionary psychology. One of the features of large-brained animals is their capacity for more than reflex actions. Gintis would do better to reflect.

Besides erasing the woman author, John Langrish objects to our defining evolutionary psychology's claims rather than quoting one who we criticise. There are plenty such quotes in the book.

Steven Rose, Open University

Hilary Rose, City University

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