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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
The German physicist Heinrich Hertz played a decisive role for Wittgenstein's use of a unique philosophical method. Wittgenstein applied this method successfully to critical problems in logic and mathematics throughout his life. Logical paradoxes and foundational problems including those of mathematics were seen as pseudo-problems requiring clarity instead of solution. In effect, Wittgenstein's controversial response to David Hilbert and Kurt Gödel was deeply influenced by Hertz and can only be fully understood when seen in this context. To comprehend (...) the arguments against the metamathematical programme, and to appreciate how profoundly the philosophical method employed actually shaped the content of Wittgenstein's philosophy, it is necessary to make an intellectual biographical reconstruction of their philosophical framework, tracing the Hertzian elements in the early as well as in the later writings. In order to write Wittgenstein's biography, we have to take seriously the coherence of his thought throughout his life, and not let convenient philosophical ideologies be our guidance in drawing up a “Wittgensteinian philosophy”. To do so, we have to take a second look upon what he actually wrote, not only in the already published material, but in the entire Nachlass. Clearly, this is not easily done, but it is a necessary task in the historical reconstruction of Wittgenstein's life and work. (shrink)
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.
This article is an investigation of parallel themes in Heinrich Hertz's philosophy science and Kant's theory of schemata, symbols and regulative ideas. It is argued that Hertz's "pictures" bears close similarities to Kantian "schemata", that is, they are rules linking concepts to intuitions and provide them with their meaning. Kant's distinction between symbols and schemata is discussed and related to Hertz's three pictures of mechanics. It is argued that Hertz considered his own picture of mechanics as (...) symbolic in a different way than the force and energy pictures. In the final part of the article it is described how Harald Høffding soon after the publication of Hertz's Principles of Mechanics developed a general theory of analogical reasoning, relying on the ideas of Hertz and Kant. (shrink)
This article is an investigation of parallel themes in Heinrich Hertz's philosophy science and Kant's theory of schemata, symbols and regulative ideas. It is argued that Hertz's "pictures" bears close similarities to Kantian "schemata", that is, they are rules linking concepts to intuitions and provide them with their meaning. Kant's distinction between symbols and schemata is discussed and related to Hertz's three pictures of mechanics. It is argued that Hertz considered his own picture of mechanics (the (...) "hidden mass" picture) as symbolic in a different way than the force and energy pictures. In the final part of the article it is described how Harald Høffding soon after the publication of Hertz's Principles of Mechanics developed a general theory of analogical reasoning, relying on the ideas of Hertz and Kant. (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 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)
This paper begins by reflecting on the current generalised political apathy signalled by low voter turnout and falling party membership. It would appear that people are exercising political choices not at the ballot box but by means of consumer activism. Corporations respond to consumer pressure in a way that governments do not, and are gradually assuming the role of global political actors. But this is a dangerous state of affairs for several reasons. In the first place, social welfare can never (...) be the core activity of corporations. Corporate social motives are commercial, and there is a danger that their social policy decisions will be driven by the logic of the market place rather than social need. Recession, for instance, will curtail their social responsiveness, as will decisions to relocate. It is also the case that partnerships between governments and corporates run the risk of removing checks on the growth and abuse of corporate power. And finally, what price does society have to pay for the growth of corporate benevolence? (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)
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)