Conceptions of paternity and evolutionary psychology

Main Article Content

Wojciech Załuski


Evolutionary psychology offers a fairly ‘patriarchal’ picture of sex differences, according to which men are, ‘by nature’, (a) much more polygamously disposed, (b) much more desirous of power over the opposite sex (this desire manifests itself in their more intense sexual jealousy), and (c) much more aggressive than women.  However, the picture – at least in its components (a) and (b) – becomes problematic if one looks at the history of conceptions of paternity accepted by our ancestors.  It is argued in the paper that the very fact that our ancestors accepted various and essentially different conceptions of paternity casts a shadow of doubt on the ‘patriarchal’ picture of sex differences (especially if this fact is coupled with the hypothesis that our most distant – Pleistocene – ancestors accepted the conceptions which deny or marginalize the role of father in the process of the generation of children).

Article Details

How to Cite
Załuski, W. (2021). Conceptions of paternity and evolutionary psychology. Philosophical Problems in Science (Zagadnienia Filozoficzne W Nauce), (71), 107–127. Retrieved from


Bachofen, J.J., Myth, Religion and Mother Right (Das Mutterrecht), transl. R. Manheim, Princeton [1861] 1967.

Bogucka, M., Gorsza płeć. Kobieta w dziejach Europy od antyku po wiek XXI, Warszawa 2005.

Buss, D.M., The Psychology of Human Mate Selection: Exploring the Complexity of the Strategic Repertoire, in: Handbook of evolutionary psychology: Ideas, issues, and applications, edited by C. B. Crawford and D. L. Krebs, Mahwah, NJ, US: 1998, pp. 405-429.

Buss, D.M., Evolution of Desire. Strategies of Human Mating, New York 2003.

Buss, D.M. and D.P. Schmitt, Evolutionary Psychology and Feminism, “Sex Roles” 2011, 64(9), pp. 768-787.

Campbell, A., Staying Alive: Evolution, Culture, and Women’s Intersexual Aggression, “Behavioral and Brain Sciences” 1999, 22, pp. 203-252.

Crawford, C.B., Public Policy and Personal Decisions: The Evolutionary Context, in: Evolutionary Psychology, Public Policy and Personal Decisions, edited by C.B. Crawford and C. Salmon, Mahwah, NJ, US: 2004, pp. 3-22.

Delaney, C., The Meaning of Paternity and the Virgin Birth Debate, “Man. New Series” 1986, 21(3), pp. 494-512.

Engels, F., Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, transl. A. West, Australia: (1884) 2004.

Fromm, E., Miłość, płeć i matriarchat (Liebe, Sexualität und Matriarchat), transl. B. Radomska, G. Sowinski. Poznań 1999.

Gowaty, P.A., Sexual Natures: How Feminism Changed Evolutionary Biology, “Signs” 2003, 28(3), pp. 901-921.

Hrdy, S.B., The Woman That Never Evolved, Cambridge, MA., London, England (1981) 1999.

Hrdy, S.B., Empathy, Polyandry, and the Myth of the Coy Female, in: Feminist Approaches to Science, edited by Ruth Bleier, New York: 1986, pp. 119-146.

Hrdy, S.B., The Past, Present, and Future of the Human Family, Tanner Lectures on Human Values 2001, pp. 57-110.

Hrdy, S.B., Mothers and Others: the Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Cambridge, MA. 2009.

Levy, K.N. and K.M. Kelly, Sex Differences in Jealousy: A Contribution from Attachment Theory, “Psychological Science” 2010, 21(2), pp. 168-173.

Malinowski, B, The Family among the Australian Aborigines. A Sociological Study, London 1913.

Malinowski, B., The Father in Primitive Psychology, London 1927a.

Malinowski, B., Sex and Repression in Savage Society. Oxford 1927b.

Morgan, L.H, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity in the Human Family, Washington D.C. 1870.

Pulman, B., Malinowski and Ignorance of Physiological Paternity, “Revue française de sociologie” 2004/5, 45, pp. 121-142.

Ridley, M., The Red Queen, Hammonworth 1994.

Russell, B., Marriage and Morals, London 1929.

Schmitt, D.P., Fundamentals of Human Mating Strategies, in: The handbook of evolutionary psychology, edited by David M. Buss, New York 2005, pp. 258-291.

Shackelford, T.K, Goetz A.T., Pound, N. and C.W. Lamunyon, Female Infidelity and Sperm Competition, in: The handbook of evolutionary psychology, edited by David M. Buss, New York 2005, pp. 372-394.

Simmons, R., Odd Girl Out.: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Orlando, Florida 2002.

Smuts, B., Evolutionary Origins of Patriarchy, “Human Nature: An Interdisciplinary Biosocial Perspective 1995, 6(1), pp. 1-32.

Trivers, R.L., Parental Investment and Sexual Selection, in: Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man 1871-1971, edited by B. Campbell, 139-179. London 1972, pp. 139-179.

Vandermassen, G., Who’s Afraid of Charles Darwin? Debating Feminism and Evolutionary Theory, Lanhem 2005.

Wilson, M. and M. Daly, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Chattel, in: The Adapted Mind. Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, edited by J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, J. Tooby, New York 1992, pp. 289-322.