He is thinking of this book:
Why do we punish, and why do we forgive? Are these learned behaviors, or is there something deeper going on? This book argues that there is indeed something deeper going on, and that our essential response to the killers, rapists, and other wrongdoers among us has been programmed into our brains by evolution. Using evidence and arguments from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Morris B. Hoffman traces the development of our innate drives to punish – and to forgive – throughout human history. He describes how, over time, these innate drives became codified into our present legal systems and how the responsibility and authority to punish and forgive was delegated to one person – the judge – or a subset of the group – the jury. Hoffman shows how these urges inform our most deeply held legal principles and how they might animate some legal reforms.
Of course, if the author were remotely right, the very concept of legal reforms would be meaningless; we would simply be carrying out an evolutionary program for which the concept of reform is meaningless.
Do cats “reform” their attitude to mice? Why or why not?
Meanwhile, he tells us, a look-alike luminary informs us how “evolution shapes our loves and fears”:
Our breath catches and we jump in fear at the sight of a snake. We pause and marvel at the sublime beauty of a sunrise. These reactions are no accident; in fact, many of our human responses to nature are steeped in our deep evolutionary past—we fear snakes because of the danger of venom or constriction, and we welcome the assurances of the sunrise as the predatory dangers of the dark night disappear. Many of our aesthetic preferences—from the kinds of gardens we build to the foods we enjoy and the entertainment we seek—are the lingering result of natural selection.
Not only that, but chimpanzees build 98% the same types of gardens!
So is there anything “evolution” can’t do? No, because, as it is now used, the term doesn’t really mean anything except “I want/have tenure.”
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