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A Different Kind of AnimalHow Culture Transformed Our Species$
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Robert Boyd

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195902

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195902.001.0001

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Imitation, Hayek, and the Significance of Cultural Learning

Imitation, Hayek, and the Significance of Cultural Learning

(p.125) Chapter 3 Imitation, Hayek, and the Significance of Cultural Learning
A Different Kind of Animal

H. Allen Orr

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses biologist H. Allen Orr's two large and interesting questions about Robert Boyd's model of cultural learning. He wonders, first, whether Boyd exaggerates the contrast between the “Big Brain” model, which emphasizes cognitive explanations for human success, and the imitative model that Boyd prefers. Orr argues that successful imitation often requires considerable “neuronal firepower.” In addition, Orr usefully describes the partial convergence of Boyd's view with that advanced by the well-known free-market economist and social theorist Friedrich Hayek. Hayek also emphasized that social success and progress depend on the use of tacit and dispersed local knowledge, culturally transmitted social norms and ethical mores, and institutions that are the product of social evolution. Orr wonders whether scientists and social scientists pay less attention to Hayek than they should because of Hayek's politics.

Keywords:   Robert Boyd, cultural learning, imitation, Friedrich Hayek, local knowledge, social norms, ethical mores, institutions, social evolution

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