On The Genealogy Of Norms: A Case For The Role Of Emotion In Cultural Evolution

Philosophy of Science 69 (2):234-255 (2002)
Abstract
One promising way to investigate the genealogy of norms is by considering not the origin of norms, but rather, what makes certain norms more likely to prevail. Emotional responses, I maintain, constitute one important set of mechanisms that affects the cultural viability of norms. To corroborate this, I exploit historical evidence indicating that 16th century etiquette norms prohibiting disgusting actions were much more likely to survive than other 16th century etiquette norms. This case suggests more broadly that work on cultural evolution should pay greater attention to the role of emotion systems in cultural transmission
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