Incest, Incest Avoidance, and Attachment: Revisiting the Westermarck Effect

Philosophy of Science 86 (3):391-411 (2019)
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This article defends a version of the Westermarck Effect, integrating existing clinical, biological, and philosophical dimensions to incest avoidance. By focusing on care-based attachment in primates, my formulation of the effect suggests the power of a phylogenetic argument widely accepted by primatologists but not by cultural anthropologists. Identifying postadoption incest as a phenomenon with underexplored evidential value, the article sketches an explanatory strategy for reconciling the effect with the clinical reality of incest, concluding with an explicit argument against culture-first or conventionalist accounts of incest avoidance prevalent in anthropology.
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