Conversation Between B.F. Skinner and E.O. Wilson
(Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 19, 1987)
E.O. Wilson: This is going to be a conversation that I will have with B.F. Skinner. This is Ed Wilson. He invited me by to talk about sociobiology. Our relations have always been very friendly and I look forward to it. This should be an interesting talk this Thursday morning.
B.F. Skinner: We will start with a basic statement. I assume that you are what I call a behaviorist. You would accept that an organism is a biophysical and biochemical system, a product of evolution.
E.O. Wilson: I am.1
B.F. Skinner: (You would identify yourself as a behaviorist) … and nothing else?
E.O. Wilson: Yes – so far, so good.
B.F. Skinner: That would include not only genetic behavior, but also the kinds of behavior that can be learned because of genetic processes. Of course it (behavior) always goes back to genetics.
I would want to identify culture as something that has evolved in the human species. I think human cultures are quite...