2Criticism #1 – Environmental Determinism - Diamond seems to want to explain the adoption of agriculture in particular - and the contrasting fates of societies in general – exclusively by reference to environmental conditions (like the wild flora and fauna of a particular region).The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t allow any room for the role of individual human agency; our capacity to change our destiny by the decisions we make and actions we take.Just as problematically, Diamond’s environmental determinism ignores the role of cultural practices and institutions in history. It is as though we are helpless victims of our environment. This notion just doesn’t accord with the way we experience our world.
3Environmental determinism? What do you think? List any points that Diamond could raise in his defence.Write down your own view; is Diamond guilty of environmental determinism?
4Criticism #2 – Underlying Eurocentrism We can accept Diamond’s answer but he’s asking the wrong question.He assumes that different societies can assessed using a common measure of technological and material progress.He then asks why European societies are more advanced technologically and materially.But he assumes this is the only – or at least, most important – measure of a culture’s worth.But he’s wrong. Other cultures haven’t pursued material and technological progress at the price of all else but other objectives which are just as valid if not more so.Eg. ‘This land is mine’ (European perspective) vs. ‘This land is me’ (Aboriginal perspective)
5Eurocentrism? What do you think? Do you agree with Wade Davis that the question Diamond asks in Guns, Germs & Steel unacceptably imposes European values on non-European cultures?