Human Curiosity Then and Now: The Anthropology, Archaeology, and Psychology of Patent Protections

In Sean Allen-Hermanson Anton Killin (ed.), Explorations in Archaeology and Philosophy. Synthese Library (Studies in Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science). Springer Verlag. pp. 67-83 (2021)
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Abstract

Recent anthropological, archaeological, and psychological findings support the view that humans have long been driven by a deep sense of curiosity that needs little if any special external material reward. Apart from being inherently interesting, these findings also turn out to have some wide-ranging consequences for central debates in other social sciences—such as economics. In particular, it is still often thought that, without extensive patent protections, economic actors lack the incentive to engage in innovative activity. However, as this chapter makes clear, the recent anthropological, archaeological, and psychological findings concerning human curiosity provide compelling reasons for thinking that this material interest-based view of innovative activity is unconvincing. In this manner, the chapter has two key upshots: first and most importantly, it shows how and why paying attention to anthropological, archaeological, and psychological findings can have wide-ranging implications throughout the social sciences. Second, it develops reasons for being skeptical about the need for the kinds of extensive patent regimes seen in many countries.

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Armin W. Schulz
University of Kansas

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