Solomon Molly Maxfield 2006 Psychological Inquiry An International Journal for

Solomon molly maxfield 2006 psychological inquiry an

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Solomon, Molly Maxfield, 2006, Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, 17:4, 328-356, DOI: 10.1080/10478400701369542, Kirkpatrick and Navarette’s (this issue) first spe- cific complaint with TMT is that it is wedded to an out- moded assumption that human beings share with many other species a survival instinct . They argue that natu- ral selection can only build instincts that respond to specific adaptive challenges in specific situations, and thus could not have designed an instinct for survival because staying alive is a broad and distal goal with no single clearly defined adaptive response. Our use of the term survival instinct was meant to highlight the gen- eral orientation toward continued life that is expressed in many of an organism’s bodily systems (e.g., heart, liver, lungs, etc) and the diverse approach and avoid- ance tendencies that promote its survival and reproduc- tion , ultimately leading to genes being passed on to fu- ture generations . Our use of this term also reflects the classic psychoanalytic, biological, and anthropological influences on TMT of theorists like Becker (1971, 1973, 1975), Freud (1976, 1991), Rank (1945, 1961, 1989), Zilborg (1943), Spengler (1999), and
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Darwin (1993). We concur that natural selection, at least initially, is unlikely to design a unitary survival instinct, but rather, a series of specific adaptations that have tended over evolutionary time to promote the survival of an organ- ism’s genes . However, whether one construes these ad- aptations as a series of discrete mechanisms or a gen- eral overarching tendency that encompasses many specific systems, we think it hard to argue with the claim that natural selection usually orients organisms to approach things that facilitate continued existence and to avoid things that would likely cut life short. This is not to say that natural selection doesn’t also select for characteristics that facilitate gene survival in other ways, or that all species or even all humans, will al- ways choose life over other valued goals in all circum- stances. Our claim is simply that a general orientation toward continued life exists because staying alive is es- sential for reproduction in most species , as well as for child rearing and support in mammalian species and many others. Viewing an animal as a loose collection of inde- pendent modules that produce responses to specific adaptively-relevant stimuli may be useful for some purposes, but it overlooks the point that adaptation in- volves a variety of inter-related mechanisms work- ing together to insure that genes responsible for these mechanisms are more numerously represented in fu- ture generations (see, e.g., Tattersall, 1998). For exam- ple, although the left ventricle of the human heart likely evolved to solve a specific adaptive problem, this mechanism would be useless unless well-integrated with other aspects of the circulatory system. We be- lieve it useful to think in terms of the overarching func- tion of the heart and pulmonary-circulatory system, even if specific parts of that
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