Handbook of Biology and Politics
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Handbook of Biology and Politics

Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit

The study of biology and politics (or biopolitics) has gained considerable currency in recent years, as articles on the subject have appeared in mainstream journals and books on the subject have been well received. The literature has increased greatly since the 1960s and 1970s, when this specialization first made an appearance. This volume assesses the contributions of biology to political science. Chapters focus on general biological approaches to politics, biopolitical contributions to mainstream areas within political science, and linkages between biology and public policy. The volume provides readers with a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
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Chapter 9: Political philosophy: an evolutionary perspective

Albert Somit


This chapter seeks several objectives. First, to suggest an answer to the most important question in political philosophy: ‘What is the nature of political man?’. Second, to account for the rarity of democratic polities in history and the fact that even today, in the so-called ‘Age of Democracy’, they remain a minority form of government. Third, to identify the unique human attributes which, given the requisite conjunction of ‘enabling’ social, economic and political conditions, make democracy sometime possible. And fourth, to discuss how an ‘evolutionary’ perspective can expand both our discipline’s research horizons and its methodological armory.

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