Front Page Titles (by Subject) Aggression: A Sociobiological View - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2
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Aggression: A Sociobiological View - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Aggression: A Sociobiological View
“Aggression.” Chapter 5 in On Human Nature. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1978.
Yes, human beings are innately aggressive. Many critics forget “that innateness refers to the measurable probability that a trait will develop in a specified set of environments, not to the certainty that the trait will develop in all environments.” Aggression in any species is “an ill-defined array of different responses” among which at least seven can be distinguished. None of these exists across a broad range of species.
Under the intense pressure of natural selection, changes can occur throughout an entire population in a few generations. Aggression is one of these changes whose behavior is usually responsive to crowding, or what has been called a “density-dependent factor.” Human beings are not bloodthirsty as in the “drive-discharge model of Freud or Lorenz, but rather are best described by the “culture pattern” model developed by the anthropologist Richard G. Sipes. Thus the cultural growth of war is also accompanied by the parallel development of combative sports and other lesser forms of violent aggression.
While the behavior is learned, “it is the pattern of such probabilities that is inherited.” Territoriality is one of the variants of aggressive behavior provoked by scarce resources, and these variants evolve “only when the vital resource is economically defensible.” This appears in studies of hunter-gatherers such as those by Rada Dyson-Hudson and Eric A. Smith. Such biological territoriality translates easily into the notion of property toward which each culture develops its own particular rules.
In testing several hypotheses about aggression, William H. Dunham concluded that “cultural traditions of primitive warfare evolved by selective retention of traits that increase the inclusive genetic fitness of human beings.” The cultural evolution of aggression is guided by three forces; a genetic predisposition toward learning some form of communal aggression, the necessities imposed by the environment, and the previous history of the group which will bias it toward the adoption of one innovation as opposed to another.
What needs further exploration is the idea that in times of plenty and in the absence of other predators, females tend to become a density-dependent factor limiting population growth.
“The evolution of warfare was an autocatalytic reaction that could not be halted by any people, because to attempt to reverse the process unilaterally was to fall victim.” Keith Otterbein has suggested that as societies become more centralized and complex they develop more elaborate military organizations and seek to expand. This process can be reversed as it was with the Maoris after the introduction of European firearms had decimated the population.
“To provide a more durable foundation for peace, political and cultural ties can be promoted that create a confusion of cross-binding loyalties.”