Incest, incest avoidance, and attachment: Revisiting the westermarck effect

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2 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-411
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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