This book is a rich blend of analyses by leading experts from various cultures and disciplines. A compact introduction to a complex field, it illustrates biotechnology's profound impact upon the environment and society. Moreover, it underscores the vital relevance of cultural values. This book empowers readers to more critically assess biotechnology's value and effectiveness within both specific cultural and global contexts.
Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world's top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across (...) populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges. (shrink)
Understanding religion requires explaining why supernatural beliefs, devotions, and rituals are both universal and variable across cultures, and why religion is so often associated with both large-scale cooperation and enduring group conflict. Emerging lines of research suggest that these oppositions result from the convergence of three processes. First, the interaction of certain reliably developing cognitive processes, such as our ability to infer the presence of intentional agents, favors—as an evolutionary by-product—the spread of certain kinds of counterintuitive concepts. Second, participation in (...) rituals and devotions involving costly displays exploits various aspects of our evolved psychology to deepen people's commitment to both supernatural agents and religious communities. Third, competition among societies and organizations with different faith-based beliefs and practices has increasingly connected religion with both within-group prosociality and between-group enmity. This connection has strengthened dramatically in recent millennia, as part of the evolution of complex societies, and is important to understanding cooperation and conflict in today's world. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple mathematical model that shows how economic inequality between social groups can arise and be maintained even when the only adaptive learning process driving cultural evolution increases individuals’ economic gains. The key assumptions are that human populations are structured into groups and that cultural learning is more likely to occur within than between groups. Then, if groups are sufficiently isolated and there are potential gains from specialization and exchange, stable stratification can sometimes result. This model predicts (...) that stratification is favored, ceteris paribus, by (1) greater surplus production, (2) more equitable divisions of the surplus among specialists, (3) greater cultural isolation among subpopulations within a society, and (4) more weight given to economic success by cultural learners. (shrink)
In The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich claims that human beings are unique—different from all other animals—because we engage in cumulative cultural evolution. It is the technological and social products of cumulative cultural evolution, not the intrinsic rationality or ‘smartness’ of individual humans, that enable us to live in a huge range of different habitats, and to dominate most of the creatures who share those habitats with us. We are sympathetic to this general view, the latest expression of (...) the ‘California school’s’ view of cultural evolution, and impressed by the lively and interesting way that Henrich handles evidence from anthropology, economics, and many fields of biology. However, because we think it is time for cultural evolutionists to get down to details, this essay review raises questions about Henrich’s analysis of both the cognitive processes and the selection processes that contribute to cumulative cultural evolution. In the former case, we argue that cultural evolutionists need to make more extensive use of cognitive science, and to consider the evidence that mechanisms of cultural learning are products as well as processes of cultural evolution. In the latter case, we ask whether the California school is really serious about selection, or whether it is offering a merely ‘kinetic’ view of cultural evolution, and, assuming the former, outline four potential models of cultural selection that it would be helpful to distinguish more clearly. (shrink)
What motives underlie the ways humans interact socially? Are these the same for all societies? Are these part of our nature, or influenced by our environments?Over the last decade, research in experimental economics has emphatically falsified the textbook representation of Homo economicus. Literally hundreds of experiments suggest that people care not only about their own material payoffs, but also about such things as fairness, equity and reciprocity. However, this research left fundamental questions unanswered: Are such social preferences stable components of (...) human nature; or, are they modulated by economic, social and cultural environments? Until now, experimental research could not address this question because virtually all subjects had been university students, and while there are cultural differences among student populations throughout the world, these differences are small compared to the full range of human social and cultural environments. A vast amount of ethnographic and historical research suggests that people's motives are influenced by economic, social, and cultural environments, yet such methods can only yield circumstantial evidence about human motives. Combining ethnographic and experimental approaches to fill this gap, this book breaks new ground in reporting the results of a large cross-cultural study aimed at determining the sources of social preferences that underlie the diversity of human sociality. The same experiments which provided evidence for social preferences among university students were performed in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of social, economic and cultural conditions by experienced field researchers who had also done long-term ethnographic field work in these societies. The findings of these experiments demonstrated that no society in which experimental behaviour is consistent with the canonical model of self-interest. Indeed, results showed that the variation in behaviour is far greater than previously thought, and that the differences between societies in market integration and the importance of cooperation explain a substantial portion of this variation, which individual-level economic and demographic variables could not. Finally, the extent to which experimental play mirrors patterns of interaction found in everyday life is traced.The book starts with a succinct but substantive introduction to the use of game theory as an analytical tool and its use in the social sciences for the rigorous testing of hypotheses about fundamental aspects of social behaviour outside artificially constructed laboratories. The results of the fifteen case studies are summarized in a suggestive chapter about the scope of the project. (shrink)
Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments from around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether the uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the university students used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public goods, and dictator games in a range of (...) small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions. We found, first, that the canonical model – based on self-interest – fails in all of the societies studied. Second, our data reveal substantially more behavioral variability across social groups than has been found in previous research. Third, group-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games. Fourth, the available individual-level economic and demographic variables do not consistently explain game behavior, either within or across groups. Fifth, in many cases experimental play appears to reflect the common interactional patterns of everyday life. Key Words: altruism; cooperation; cross-cultural research; experimental economics; game theory; ultimatum game; public goods game; self-interest. (shrink)
Using samples from three diverse populations, we test evolutionary hypotheses regarding how people reason about the inheritance of various traits. First, we provide a framework for differentiat-ing the outputs of mechanisms that evolved for reasoning about variation within and between biological taxa and culturally evolved ethnic categories from a broader set of beliefs and categories that are the outputs of structured learning mechanisms. Second, we describe the results of a modified “switched-at-birth” vignette study that we administered among children and adults (...) in Puno, Yasawa, and adults in the United States. This protocol permits us to study perceptions of prenatal and social transmission pathways for various traits and to differentiate the latter into vertical versus horizontal cultural influence. These lines of evidence suggest that people use all three mechanisms to reason about the distribution of traits in the population. Participants at all three sites develop expectations that morphological traits are under prenatal influence, and that belief traits are more culturally influenced. On the other hand, each population holds culturally specific beliefs about the degree of social influence on non-morphological traits and about the degree of vertical transmission—with only participants in the United States expecting parents to have much social influence over their children. We reinterpret people's differentiation of trait transmission pathways in light of humans' evolutionary history as a cultural species. (shrink)
In this collection comprising four of his most influential essays, Henrich proves himself unique in the conjunction of philosophical acumen, insight, and originality that he brings to Kant interpretation.
This collection of essays by one of the foremost Kant scholars of our time is a welcome and timely addition to the literature. Henrich is a very prolific scholar, and the lack of English translations of most of his works may account in some measure for the fact that there has been surprisingly little sustained engagement with them by Anglo-American scholars, especially those working on Kant’s ethics. It is to be hoped that this volume will help provoke such an (...) engagement. (shrink)
Hence, there is still controversy over which of the two versions of the deduction deserves priority and whether indeed any distinction between them can be maintained that would go beyond questions of presentation and involve the structure of the proof itself. Schopenhauer and Heidegger held that the first edition alone fully expresses Kant's unique philosophy, while Kant himself, as well as many other Kantians, have only seen a difference in the method of presentation.
In our response to the 28 (largely positive) commentaries from an esteemed collection of researchers, we (1) consolidate additional evidence, extensions, and amplifications offered by our commentators; (2) emphasize the value of integrating experimental and ethnographic methods, and show how researchers using behavioral games have done precisely this; (3) present our concerns with arguments from several commentators that separate variable from or ; (4) address concerns that the patterns we highlight marking WEIRD people as psychological outliers arise from aspects of (...) the researchers and the research process; (5) respond to the claim that as members of the same species, humans must have the same invariant psychological processes; (6) address criticisms of our telescoping contrasts; and (7) return to the question of explaining why WEIRD people are psychologically unusual. We believe a broad-based behavioral science of human nature needs to integrate a variety of methods and apply them to diverse populations, well beyond the WEIRD samples it has largely relied upon. (shrink)
This is a collection of four essays on aesthetic, ethical, and political issues by the pre-eminent Kant scholar in Germany today, perhaps best known for rekindling interest in the great classical German tradition from Kant to Fichte.
We develop a cultural evolutionary theory of the origins of prosocial religions and apply it to resolve two puzzles in human psychology and cultural history: the rise of large-scale cooperation among strangers and, simultaneously, the spread of prosocial religions in the last 10–12 millennia. We argue that these two developments were importantly linked and mutually energizing. We explain how a package of culturally evolved religious beliefs and practices characterized by increasingly potent, moralizing, supernatural agents, credible displays of faith, and other (...) psychologically active elements conducive to social solidarity promoted high fertility rates and large-scale cooperation with co-religionists, often contributing to success in intergroup competition and conflict. In turn, prosocial religious beliefs and practices spread and aggregated as these successful groups expanded, or were copied by less successful groups. This synthesis is grounded in the idea that although religious beliefs and practices originally arose as nonadaptive by-products of innate cognitive functions, particular cultural variants were then selected for their prosocial effects in a long-term, cultural evolutionary process. This framework reconciles key aspects of the adaptationist and by-product approaches to the origins of religion, explains a variety of empirical observations that have not received adequate attention, and generates novel predictions. Converging lines of evidence drawn from diverse disciplines provide empirical support while at the same time encouraging new research directions and opening up new questions for exploration and debate. (shrink)
Intent and mitigating circumstances play a central role in moral and legal assessments in large-scale industrialized societies. Al- though these features of moral assessment are widely assumed to be universal, to date, they have only been studied in a narrow range of societies. We show that there is substantial cross-cultural variation among eight traditional small-scale societies (ranging from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist to horticulturalist) and two Western societies (one urban, one rural) in the extent to which intent and mitigating circumstances influence (...) moral judgments. Although participants in all societies took such factors into account to some degree, they did so to very different extents, varying in both the types of considerations taken into account and the types of violations to which such considerations were applied. The particular patterns of assessment characteristic of large-scale industrialized societies may thus reflect relatively recently culturally evolved norms rather than inherent features of human moral judgment. (shrink)
In a series of studies over the last 30 years, Henrich has shown that Hölderlin played a decisive role in the development of philosophy from Kant to Hegel. This book includes six of Henrich's most important essays on Hölderlin.
We situate Henrich’s book in the larger research tradition of which it is a part and show how he presents a wide array of recent psychological, physiological, and neurological data as supporting the view that two related but distinct processes have shaped human nature and made us unique: cumulative cultural evolution and culture-driven genetic evolution. We briefly sketch out several ways philosophers might fruitfully engage with this view and note some implications it may have for current philosophic debates in (...) moral and political theory and over the nature of extended cognition. We end by noting how Henrich’s view of the source of cultural design and innovation, and the prominence of place he gives to the extended process of cultural evolution, cuts against a cluster of broad but common views about human minds, recasting putative bugs as features and indicating that many of the distinctive features of our individual minds evolved to allow them to be effective cogs in the larger, more productive cultural machine. (shrink)
We would like to thank the commentators for their generous comments, valuable insights and helpful suggestions. We begin this response by discussing the selfishness axiom and the importance of the preferences, beliefs, and constraints framework as a way of modeling some of the proximate influences on human behavior. Next, we broaden the discussion to ultimate-level (that is evolutionary) explanations, where we review and clarify gene-culture coevolutionary theory, and then tackle the possibility that evolutionary approaches that exclude culture might be sufficient (...) to explain the data. Finally, we consider various methodological and epistemological concerns expressed by our commentators. (shrink)
Hölderlin’s „Urteil und Sein“ is certainly one of the most intensively discussed fragments in German Idealism. Since Dieter Henrich’s influential interpretation from 1965 it is firmly believed that Urteil und Sein represents a key reference for a unique and „courageous attack“ on Fichte’s principle of philosophy, the „Ich“ of the intellectual intuition. According to Henrich and his followers, Hölderlin argues that the principle of philosophy ought to be „Sein“ instead of „Ich“. In contrast to Henrich, I believe (...) that Urteil und Sein does not contain any kind of critical remarks on Fichte’s philosophy at all. To follow my argumentation, it is only required to avoid the confusion between the content of the intellectual intuition and self-consciousness.Hölderlins Fragment Urteil und Sein zählt zu den bedeutendsten Dokumenten der klassischen deutschen Philosophie und ist seit Henrichs wirkungsmächtiger Interpretation 1965/66 von nahezu allen namhaften deutschen Idealismusforschern Henrichkonform interpretiert worden. Es gilt als einmalige Referenz für eine ebenso einmalige Kritik am Subjekt als Prinzip der Philosophie – namentlich an Fichtes Prinzip. In diesem Diskussionsbeitrag werfe ich die Frage auf, ob dies wirklich der Fall ist, und vertrete die These, dass in Urteil und Sein keinerlei Kritik an Fichtes Philosophie nachweisbar ist. Meine Argumentation beruht auf der Unterscheidung zwischen dem „Ich“ als gedanklichen Gehalt der intellektuellen Anschauung und dem Selbstbewusstsein als Ausdruck der reflexiven Gewahrwerdens seiner selbst im Bewusstsein, nämlich „Ich bin Ich“. (shrink)
As the author explains, the title of this work is intended to distinguish it from ordinary, Whiggish accounts of the development of German philosophy “from Kant to Hegel.” Instead, Heinrich treats the positions of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel as potentially viable alternatives, none of which must be viewed as aufgehoben by those that followed, and all of which deserve reconsideration by contemporary philosophers.Dieter Henrich is known for two things: first, for championing a minutely-detailed, revisionist approach to the history of (...) post-Kantian philosophy; and second, for his insistence that the central problem of German idealism is that of self-consciousness. Both elements are well represented in this book, which is a revised version of a series of lectures delivered at Harvard in 1973. The text thus antedates many of the more recent discoveries and claims of Henrich and his student collaborators in the “Jena project,” though some of the results are alluded to in the useful footnotes and apparatus provided by David S. Pacini, who attended the original lectures and has expert knowledge of Henrich’s more recent work. (shrink)
Much existing literature in anthropology suggests that teaching is rare in non-Western societies, and that cultural transmission is mostly vertical (parent-to-offspring). However, applications of evolutionary theory to humans predict both teaching and non-vertical transmission of culturally learned skills, behaviors, and knowledge should be common cross-culturally. Here, we review this body of theory to derive predictions about when teaching and non-vertical transmission should be adaptive, and thus more likely to be observed empirically. Using three interviews conducted with rural Fijian populations, we (...) find that parents are more likely to teach than are other kin types, high-skill and highly valued domains are more likely to be taught, and oblique transmission is associated with high-skill domains, which are learned later in life. Finally, we conclude that the apparent conflict between theory and empirical evidence is due to a mismatch of theoretical hypotheses and empirical claims across disciplines, and we reconcile theory with the existing literature in light of our results. (shrink)
Dieter Henrich’s reconstruction of the transcendental deduction in "Identität und Objektivität" has been criticised (probably unfairly) by Guyer and others for assuming that we have a priori Cartesian certainty about our own continuing existence through time. In his later article "The Identity of the Subject in the Transcendental Deduction", Henrich addresses this criticism and proposes a new, again entirely original argument for a reconstruction. I attempt to elucidate this argument with reference to Evans’s theory of the Generality Constraint (...) and a remark of Strawson’s in Individuals. Its logical form of a sentence-operator requires that the "I think" be capable of accompanying every thought that we can form. Henrich seems to rely on this point, claiming in addition that we must be aware of this property of the "I think". I object that we cannot assume everyone to be capable of doing the philosophy of her own situation. (shrink)