Environmental determinism is the study of how the physical environment predisposes societies . Diamond says that these natural endowments began with the dawn of man, and favored Eurasian high birth rates, and an innate hierarchy, gave some civilizations the advantages of free labor, fertilizers, and war animals. cerning man-environment relationships exhibit many similarities as well as certain differences. In response to environmental determinism, practitioners in the two disciplines developed .. Free Press, ), p. 35 For examples of this. The issue of environmental determinism and possibilism is still being debated believes that man is never entirely free from the influence of environment, but there is a room for the . hoods, are a subset of the broader relationship between .
Personal agency refers to the choices we make in life, the paths we go down and their consequences.
Environmental determinism - Wikipedia
For humanistic psychologists such as Maslow and Rogers freedom is not only possible but also necessary if we are to become fully functional human beings. Both see self-actualisation as a unique human need and form of motivation setting us apart from all other species. There is thus a line to be drawn between the natural and the social sciences.Determinism (Ratzel), Neo-Determinism and Possibilism (Blache) - 3 Perspectives in Human Geography
To take a simple example, when two chemicals react there is no sense in imagining that they could behave in any other way than the way they do. However when two people come together they could agree, fall out, come to a compromise, start a fight and so on. The permutations are endless and in order to understand their behavior we would need to understand what each party to the relationship chooses to do.
Cognitive psychologists are also inclined to attribute importance to free will, and adopt a soft determinism view. However whereas humanists are especially interested in our choice of ends how each of us sees the road to self actualization cognitive psychologists are more inclined to focus on the choice of means.
In other words for them it is the rational processing of information which goes into the making of a decision which is their main interest. Conscious reflection on our own behavior is seen as the best way of achieving goals and learning from mistakes. Mental illnesses appear to undermine the concept of freewill.
For example, individuals with OCD lose control of their thoughts and actions and people with depression lose control over their emotions. However there is also an intermediate position that goes back to the psychoanalytic psychology of Sigmund Freud. At first sight Freud seems to be a supporter of determinism in that he argued that our actions and our thoughts are controlled by the unconscious.
However the very goal of therapy was to help the patient overcome that force. Indeed without the belief that people can change therapy itself makes no sense.
This insight has been taken up by several neo-Freudians. One of the most influential has been Erich Fromm As a result we give up our freedom and allow our lives to be governed by circumstance, other people, political ideology or irrational feelings. However determinism is not inevitable and in the very choice we all have to do good or evil Fromm sees the essence of human freedom. Summary Psychologists who take the free will view suggest that determinism removes freedom and dignity, and devalues human behavior.
Freewill and Determinism
By creating general laws of behavior, deterministic psychology underestimates the uniqueness of human beings and their freedom to choose their own destiny. There are important implications for taking either side in this debate. Deterministic explanations for behavior reduce individual responsibility.
A person arrested for a violent attack for example might plead that they were not responsible for their behavior — it was due to their upbringing, a bang on the head they received earlier in life, recent relationship stresses, or a psychiatric problem.
In other words, their behavior was determined. The deterministic approach also has important implications for psychology as a science. Scientists are interested in discovering laws which can then be used to predict events.
This is very easy to see in physics, chemistry and biology. As a science, psychology attempts the same thing — to develop laws, but this time to predict behavior If we argue against determinism, we are in effect rejecting the scientific approach to explaining behavior Clearly, a pure deterministic or free will approach does not seem appropriate when studying human behavior Most psychologists use the concept of free will to express the idea that behavior is not a passive reaction to forces, but that individuals actively respond to internal and external forces.
The term soft determinism is often used to describe this position, whereby people do have a choice, but their behavior is always subject to some form of biological or environmental pressure. Transmission of aggression through the imitation of aggressive models. The east-west orientation of Eurasia allowed for knowledge capital to spread quickly, and writing systems to keep track of advanced farming techniques gave people the ability to store and build upon a knowledge base across generations.
Craftsmanship flourished as a surplus of food from farming allowed some groups the freedom to explore and create, which lead to the development of metallurgy and advances in technology.
While the advantageous geography helped to develop early societies, the close proximity in which humans and their animals lived led to the spread of disease across Eurasia. Over several centuries, rampant disease decimated populations, but ultimately led to disease resistant communities. Diamond suggests that these chains of causation led to European and Asian civilizations holding a dominant place in the world today.
He argues that the Europeans took advantage of their environment to build large and complex states complete with advanced technology and weapons. The Incans and other native groups were not as blessed, suffering from a north—south orientation that prevented the flow of goods and knowledge across the continent.
The Americas also lacked the animals, metals, and complex writing systems of Eurasia which prevented them from achieving the military or biological protections needed to fight off the European threat. It was notably attacked for not providing enough detail regarding causation of environmental variables, and for leaving logical gaps in reasoning.
Geographer Andrew Sluyter argued that Diamond was just as ignorant as the racists of the 19th century. Sluyter challenged Diamond's theory since it seemed to suggest that environmental conditions lead to gene selection, which then lead to wealth and power for certain civilizations.
Sluyter also attacks environmental determinism by condemning it as a highly studied and popular field based entirely on Diamond's "quick and dirty" combination of natural and social sciences. Robinson similarly criticized Diamond's work in their book Why Nations Fail.
They contend that the theory is outdated and can not effectively explain differences in economic growth after or the reasons why states that are geographically close can exhibit vast differences in wealth. They instead favored an institutional approach in which a societies success or failure is based on the underlying strength of its institutions.
States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control In his book States and Power in Africapolitical scientist Jeffrey Herbst argues that environmental conditions help explain why, in contrast to other parts of the world such as Europe, many pre-colonial societies in Africa did not develop into dense, settled, hierarchical societies with strong state control that competed with neighboring states for people and territory.
European states consequently developed strong institutions and capital-periphery linkages. The largest pre-colonial polities arose in the Sudanian Savanna belt of West Africa because the horses and camels could transport armies over the terrain. In other areas, no centralized political organizations existed above the village level. Colonial powers had little incentive to develop state institutions to protect their colonies against invasion, having divided up Africa at the Berlin Conference.
The colonizers instead focused on exploting natural resources and exploitation colonialism. Marcella Alsan argues the prevalence of the tsetse fly hampered early state formation in Africa. African communities were prevented from stockpiling agricultural surplus, working the land, or eating meat. Because the disease environment hindered the formation of farming communities, early African societies resembled small hunter-gatherer groups and not centralized states.
Livestock also diminished the comparative advantage of owning slaves. African societies relied on the use of rival tribesman as slave labor where the fly was prevalent, which impeded long-term societal cooperation. Contradicting the link between the Inca state and dried potato is that other crops such as maize can also be preserved with only sun.
The disease environment[ edit ] Main article: Robinson have achieved notoriety for demonstrating that diseases and terrain have helped shape tendencies towards democracy versus dictatorship, and through these economic growth and development.
An Empirical Investigation,  the authors show that the colonial disease environment shaped the tendency for Europeans to settle the territory or not, and whether they developed systems of agriculture and labor markets that were free and egalitarian versus exploitative and unequal.
These choices of political and economic institutions, they argue, shaped tendencies to democracy or dictatorship over the following centuries. Factor endowment In order to understand the impact and creation of institutions during early state formation, economic historians Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff examined the economic development of the Americas during colonization.
These endowments included the climate, soil profitability, crop potential, and even native population density. Institutions formed to take advantage of these factor endowments.
Those that were most successful developed an ability to change and adapt to new circumstances over time. For example, the development of economic institutions, such as plantationswas caused by the need for a large property and labor force to harvest sugar and tobacco, while smallholder farms thrived in areas where scale economies were absent. Though initially profitable, plantation colonies also suffered from large dependent populations over time as slaves and natives were given few rights, limiting the population available to drive future economic progress and technological development.
This is demonstrated by the plantation owning elite using their power to secure long lasting government institutions and pass legislation that lead to the persistence of inequality society. Engerman and Sokoloff found smallholder economies to be more equitable since they discouraged an elite class from forming, and distributed political power democratically to most land-owning males.
These differences in political institutions were also highly influential in the development of schools, as more equitable societies demanded an educated population to make political decisions.