Advertisement

On Human Sociality I

  • Amos WitztumEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Synopsis : Up to now, the focus of our attention had been the way in which economics’ paradigmatic core betrayed us by its false promise. Here, however, we begin the examination of whether this lamentable state of affairs is not really a result of the way we—notably, the academic community—have betrayed economics. As modern economics is fundamentally an individualistic theory, its rise and fall are very likely to be associated with the accuracy and relevance, of the way in which it conceives the individual. Given that one of the main objectives of modern economics had been to create a theory which is both universal and ethically neutral—and, thus, suitable to all societies—it raises a question whether human nature does indeed lend itself to such an understanding. Does the conception of the individual in economic analysis take into account the fact that humans naturally live in societies and that economics is, in the end, part of a broader social system? Therefore, we begin our investigation into the origins of economics’ possible failure by inquiring about the nature of human sociality. The first port of call is about the possible meaning of being social. To have a clear vision of the subject, we propose from the outset two extreme visions of what human sociality may mean. At the one end, we have the purely functional view according to which, individuals’ sociality is a reflection of the usefulness of others to each individual. We form social ties or we care about the others because they are useful to us. At the other extreme we have the case where individuals are innately, or intrinsically, social and where social relationships have no obvious immediate functional purpose for the individual. It is evident that given that the origin of morality lies in sociality, the first extreme suggests a complete subjugation of ethics and society to the usefulness of the organisation to the individuals who formed it. The other extreme, on the other hand, suggests that ethics and social principle may precede the principles of economic organisation. We identify along this spectrum some key social thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Spencer and Durkheim, and we are also able to position along it the conception of the individual embedded in both liberal classical and modern economics. By adding a question with regard to the possible origins of the social drives—on a spectrum between the instinctive and the cognitive—we are able to extend our investigation into some of the evidence emanating from evolutionary biology, anthropology and comparative neurology.

Bibliography

  1. Alcock, J. (2005). Animal Behaviour (8th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  2. Amit, V. (Ed.). (2015). Thinking Through Sociality: An Anthropological Interrogation of Key Concepts. Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  3. Arensburg, B., Schepartz, L. A., Tillier, A. M., Vandermeersch, B., & Rak, Y. (1990). A Reappraisal of the Anatomical Basis for Speech in Middle Paleolithic Hominids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83, 137–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Binmore, K. (2006). Why Do People Cooperate. Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 5(1), 81–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. A. (2011). A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnham, T. C., & Johnson, D. P. (2005). The Biological and Evolutionary Logic of Human Cooperation. Analyse & Kritik, 27, 113–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byrne, R. W., & Whiten, A. (Eds.). (1988). Machiavellian Intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Charness, G., & Rabin, M. (2002). Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(3), 817–869.Google Scholar
  9. Corning, P. A. (1982). Durkheim and Spencer. The British Journal of Sociology, 33(3), 359–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunbar, R. I. M. (1993). Co-evolution of Neocortical Size, Group Size and Language in Humans. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 16(4), 681–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunbar, R. I. M. (1998). The Social Brain Hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 178–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunbar, R. I. M. (2007). Evolution and the Social Sciences. History of the Human Sciences, 20(2), 29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dunbar, R. I. M. (2014). The Social Brain: Psychological Underpinnings and Implications for the Structure of Organizations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24, 109–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunbar, R. I. M., & Shultz, S. (2007). Evolution in the Social Brain. Science, 317, 1344–1347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Durkheim, E. (1933 [1893]). The Division of Labor in Society (G. Simpson, Trans.). Glencoe, IL: The Free Press of Glencoe.Google Scholar
  16. Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (1999). A Theory of Fairness. Competition, and Cooperation, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(3), 817–868.Google Scholar
  17. Friedman, M. (1953). Essays in Positive Economics. Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gardner, A., & Grafen, A. (2009). Capturing the Superorganism: A Formal Theory of Group Adaptation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22, 659–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibbons, A. (2006). The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  20. Gibbons, A. (2007). Food for Thought: Did the First Cooked Meals Help Fuel the Dramatic Evolutionary Expansion of the Human Brain? Science, 316(5831), 1558–1560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gintis, H., Bowles, S., Boyd, R., & Fehr, E. (2005). Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: Origins, Evidence, and Consequences. In H. Gintis (Ed.), Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life (pp. 3–39). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gossen, H. H. (1854). Die Entwickelung der Gesetze des menschlichen Verkehrs, und der daraus fließenden Regeln für menschliches Handeln. Translated into English as The Laws of Human Relations and the Rules of Human Action Derived Therefrom (1983) MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Goto, R., Okamoto, T., Kiers, E. T., Kawakita, A., & Kato, M. (2010). Selective Flower Abortion Maintains Moth Cooperation in a Newly Discovered Pollination Mutualism. Ecology Letters, 13, 321–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Greenwood, J. D. (1997). The Mark of the Social: Discovery of Invention? Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour, I & II. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7, 1–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hamilton, W. D. (1972). Altruism and Related Phenomena, Mainly in Social Insects. Annual Review of Ecological Systematics, 3, 193–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heinrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., & Gintins, H. (2004). Foundation of Human Sociality. London: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holloway, R. L. (1966). Cranial Capacity and Neural Reorganizations – A Search for Suitable Parameters. American Anthropology, 68, 103–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holloway, R. L., Broadfield, D. C., & Yuan, M. S. (2005). Methods and Materials of Endocast Analysis. In The Human Fossil Record: Brain Endocasts – The Paleoneurological Evidence (Vol. 3). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  30. Krebs, J. R., & Davies, N. B. (1993). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology (3rd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  31. Levinson, S. C., & Enfield, N. J. (2006). Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Maryanski, A. (1992). The Last Ancestor: An Ecological Network Model on the Origins of Human Sociality. Advances in Human Ecology, 2, 1–32.Google Scholar
  33. Maryanski, A., & Turner, J. H. (1992). The Social Cage: Human Nature and the Evolution of Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Maslin, M. A., & Christensen, B. (2007). Special Issue: African Paleoclimate and Human Evolution. Journal of Human Evolution, 53, 443–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Meier, S. (2006). The Economics of Non-selfish Behaviour; Decisions to Contribute Money to Public Goods. London: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. Mill, J. S. (1859). On Liberty. London: John W Parker and Son.Google Scholar
  37. Passingham, R. E. (1982). The Human Primate. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  38. Reader, S. M., & Laland, K. M. (2002). Social Intelligence, Innovation, and Enhanced Brain Size in Primates. Proceeding of the National Academy of Science in the United States of America, 99(7), 4436–4441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Roth, G., & Dicke, U. (2005). Evolutions of Brain Size and Intelligence. Trends on Cognitive Science, 9(5), 250–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sachs, J. L., Mueller, U. G., Wilcox, T. P., & Bull, J. J. (2004). The Evolution of Cooperation. Quarterly Review of Biology, 79, 135–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scheparts, L. A. (1993). Language and Modern Human Origins. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 36, 91–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sherman, P. W. (1977). Nepotism and the Evolution of Alarm Calls. Science, 197, 1246–1253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shettleworth, S. J. (2012). Modularity, Comparative Cognition and Human Uniqueness. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 367, 2794–2802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, J. M. (1982). Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smith, V. L. (1998). The Two Faces of Adam Smith. Southern Economic Journal, 65, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Spencer, H. (1897 [1874–1875]). The Principles of Sociology. New York: Appleton.Google Scholar
  47. Stephan, H., Frahm, H., & Baron, G. (1981). New and Revised Data on Volumes of Brain Structures in Insectivores and Primates. Folia Primatol, 35, 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stout, D. (2011). Stone Toolmaking and the Evolution of Human Culture and Cognition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 366, 1050–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tattersall, I. (2000). Once We Were Not Alone. Scientific American, 282(1), 56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thornhill, N. W., Cosmides, L., Maryanski, A. M., Meyer, P., Toby, J., & Turner, J. H. (1997). Evolutionary Theory and Human Social Institutions: Psychological Foundations. In P. Weingart, S. D. Mitchell, P. J. Richerson, & S. Maasen (Eds.), Human By Nature: Between Biology and the Social Sciences. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Tomasello, M. (1999). The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Turner, J. H. (1997). The Institutional Order: Economy, Kinship, Religion, Polity, Law, and Education in Evolutionary and Comparative Perspective. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  53. Vinicius, D. L., Goulart, R., & Young, R. J. (2013). Selfish Behaviour and an Antipredator Response in Schooling Fish? Animal Behaviour, 86(2), 443–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Walras, L. (1954 [1874]). Elements of Pure Economics (W. Jaffe, Trans.). London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.Google Scholar
  55. Weber, M. (1922). Economy and Society (G. Roth & C. Wittich, Ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  56. Weingart, P., Mitchell, S., Richardson, P., & Maasen, S. (1997). Human by Nature: Between Biology and the Social Sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  57. West, S. A., Griffin, A. S., & Gardner, A. (2007). Social Semantics: Altruism, Cooperation, Mutualism, Strong Reciprocity and Group Selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20, 415–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. West, S. A., Mouden, C. E., & Gardner, A. (2011). Sixteen Common Misconceptions About the Evolution of Cooperation in Humans. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 231–262.Google Scholar
  59. Westneat, D. F., & Fox, C. W. (2010). Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social SciencesLondon School of Economics and Political SciencesLondonUK

Personalised recommendations