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Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected Papers of Robert Trivers (Evolution and Cognition) [Paperback]

Robert Trivers
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 5, 2002 0195130626 978-0195130621
Robert Trivers is a pioneering figure in the field of sociobiology. For Natural Selection and Social Theory, he has selected eleven of his most influential papers, including several classic papers from the early 1970s on the evolution of reciprocal altruism, parent-offspring conflicts, and asymmetry in sexual selection, which helped to establish the centrality of sociobiology, as well as some of his later work on deceit in signalling, sex antagonistic genes, and imprinting. Trivers introduces each paper, setting them in their contemporary context, and critically evaluating them in the light of subsequent work and further developments. The result is a unique portrait of the intellectual development of sociobiology, with valuable insights for evolutionary biology, anthropology, and psychology.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert L. Trivers is at Rutgers University.

Product Details

  • Series: Evolution and Cognition
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195130626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195130621
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yippee!!! November 29, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Those of us who are interested in the stories behind just HOW major breakthroughs in evolutionary and ecological thought were made have been spoiled in recent years: First there was W.D. Hamilton's marvelous 2 volume NARROW ROADS OF GENE LAND, now we get Bob Triver's wonderful NATURAL SELECTION AND SOCIAL THEORY. Here, in one place, one can find most of Trivers' revolutionary work on the evolution of social behavior, and as an added bonus one also gets Trivers' unvarnished -and often highly entertaining- commentary on just how he came to put together the ideas that -love 'em or hate 'em- provided much of the driving force behind Sociobiology & ultimately lead to Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Psychology. Along the way we are introduced to a fascinating cast of characters, ranging from Ernst Mayr, the foremost living Darwinian, through the neo-Marxist wing of Harvard, to Huey Newton, ex-Minister of Defense for the Black Panthers. Trivers' thinking is as eclectic and far ranging as the list of his friends and enemies, and while many of his subjects (altruism, parent-offspring conflict, fluctuating asymmetry, etc.) are still at the cutting edge of evolutionary thought, his writing is sufficiently free of jargon that I think it will draw in even the non-specialist. You may not agree with everything that Trivers says here -and I suspect that some folks will be offended by his candor- but this is a really important book & I see it as essential reading for any of us interested in the question of why we may do so many of the things that we do. Bravo!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After all these years April 21, 2009
When I was doing my doctoral work, I took a psychology class from a wonderful young professor. He introduced us to Robert Trivers,then at Harvard. It's been nearly 30 years since I received my degree and I have never forgotten that name nor the fascinating research with which we were presented. I have often made references to his work in the classes I taught but I never pursued my own suggestion to "go read Trivers." When this book popped up on my Amazon page, I decided it was karma and I ordered it. I was not disappointed. This is not an easy read and I don't for one minute pretend to understand the equations, but Trivers' introductions to each article are well written and often humorous. The research itself still holds as much fascination for me as it did when I was a young doc student. Give it a try.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic paper, plus plus why, PLUS where too now February 27, 2006
This book contains all of Robert Triver's best papers.

In addition, each is book-ended between a two short essays outlining the background to Professor Trivers' initial exploration and thinking behind the paper, often including quite intriguing sociological contexts. Then, which is extremely valuable, Triver's brings the reader up-to-date with the subsequent history of the idea in that paper: who did it influence? Does he still believe it? What is the current hot take on the area?

It is a magnificent tribute to a life-time of work, and valuable for anyone active in the area of evolution.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for social scientists and others February 11, 2004
By Lena
This is a beautiful book. It combines seminal papers with anecdotes and a post-scripts which place the paper in their context and make it easier for those of us who have been consumers of socio-biology to better appreciate the significance of the ideas presented. Trivers is a compelling writer and this book is a true gift to anybody curious about human psyche and behaviour. Highly recommended.
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