A free-access article on Evolutionary Political Science (EPS) make a distinction between two biological approaches to politics:

One that explains behavioral outcomes as a consequence of underlying genotypic differences across and between individuals in a population (e.g., a gene, or “allele,” present in some members of the population but not in others)

which the authors call a “heritability” approach

and another that explains behavior as a product of species-typical adaptations (e.g., psychological, neural, biochemical, etc.) shared by humans as a consequence of natural selection

which they call “adaptationist.”

This is a useful distinction. There is genetic variation, but also genetic commonality. Human nature and human natures. Both need to be kept in mind. (The names they give are a bit dubious though—heritability and adaptation feature in all kinds of EPS.)

But I am inclined to go further and say that there are several more forms of EPS. Two more are:

  • social evolutionary: how has politics evolved?
  • normative: what is natural right or evolutionary ethics?

There is a rich ecosystem of EPS, which is hard to reduce to just two or even a few approaches.


Lopez, A. C. and McDermott, R. (2012), Adaptation, Heritability, and the Emergence of Evolutionary Political Science. Political Psychology, 33: 343–362. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2012.00880.x


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