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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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Culture, Beliefs, and Decisions

Culture, Beliefs, and Decisions

(p.173) Chapter 7 Culture, Beliefs, and Decisions
A Different Kind of Animal

Robert Boyd

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter highlights Robert Boyd's reply to the commentators, in which he expresses appreciation for their thoughtful disagreements, all of which “accept the value of trying to understand how culture evolved.” Boyd notes one broad point of contention, shared by Ruth Mace, Kim Sterelny, and Paul Seabright, which is that he does not “give people enough credit for making smart, well-informed decisions.” Boyd stands his ground, arguing that individual choice matters but people's basic beliefs come from their social context. With respect to the related comments by H. Allen Orr and others, Boyd expresses agreement that “cognitive abilities and cultural learning are mutually reinforcing.” Ultimately, Boyd ably defends his model against all four commentators and concludes by offering a pointed defense, against Seabright, of his own more optimistic view.

Keywords:   culture, well-informed decisions, individual choice, basic beliefs, cognitive abilities, cultural learning

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