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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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Inference and Hypothesis Testing in Cultural Evolution

Inference and Hypothesis Testing in Cultural Evolution

(p.152) Chapter 5 Inference and Hypothesis Testing in Cultural Evolution
A Different Kind of Animal

Ruth Mace

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace applauds Robert Boyd's multidisciplinary approach to the study of human evolution, while stressing her own belief in the importance of empirical testing. She points out that many questions remain about how norms arise, why they vary, “how they are maintained, and how easily they change.” In a more critical vein, Mace suggests that some of the behaviors that Boyd attributes to social norms and sanctions might better be explained based on individual benefits. This includes the decision to participate in warfare. Mace then describes her own empirical research on intergroup conflict in Northern Ireland and raises the question of whether “competition and conflict between groups, such as interethnic warfare, leads to parochial altruism (that is, altruism directed only within the group).”

Keywords:   Robert Boyd, human evolution, empirical testing, social norms, sanctions, individual benefits, warfare, interethnic warfare, Northern Ireland, parochial altruism

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