This paper seeks to refute one variant of a view that scientific disciplines are intrinsically more objective than non?scientific ones, and that this greater objectivity explains increasing social agreement about the findings of science, by contrast with increasing disagreement about the findings of, e.g., ethics. Such a view rests on the implicit assumption that all forms of discourse aim equally at the generation of consensus; instead, differing degrees of consensus in different disciplines are often explicable by sociological, not metaphysical, differences (...) in the disciplines concerned. A detailed example is presented of a discipline (Indian folk dietary medicine) in which considerable lack of consensus is observed, for sociologically explicable reasons, in spite of its claims to scientific objectivity. It is concluded that disciplines may differ in the degree of truth of the claims advanced in them, and in the importance of consensus among their social aims. But neither of these is to be explained by differences in respect of some independent property of objectivity. (shrink)
Smiling can be interpreted as a costly signal of future benefits from cooperation between the individual smiling and the individual to whom the smile is directed. The target article by Niedenthal et al. gives little attention to the possible mechanisms by which smiling may have evolved. In our view, there are strong reasons to think that smiling has the key characteristics of a costly signal.
This article sets out and comments on the arguments of Binmore 's Natural Justice, and specifically on the empirical hypotheses that underpin his social contract view of the foundations of justice. It argues that Binmore 's dependence on the hypothesis that individuals have purely self-regarding preferences forces him to claim that mutual monitoring of free-riding behavior was sufficiently reliable to enforce cooperation in hunter-gatherer societies, and that this makes it hard to explain why intuitions about justice could have evolved, since (...) in such a society intuitions about justice would have had no adaptive advantage. I argue that it is empirically plausible that human beings display systematic other-regarding preferences. These could be incorporated into Binmore 's general framework in a way that would enrich it and make it more useful for solving practical problems about justice. Key Words: natural justice • fairness • norms • evolution • self-regarding preferences • Rawls • social contract. (shrink)
This comment focuses on difficulties in establishing causality among various phenomena present in early modern Europe at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It concludes that, rather than focus on a single cause out of many candidates, we should consider the possibility of a set of mutually reinforcing causes, among which those suggested by Life History Theory may be included.