On the genealogy of norms: A case for the role of emotion in cultural evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

One promising way to investigate the genealogy of norms is by considering not the origin of norms, but rather what makes certain norms more likely to prevail. Emotional responses, I maintain, constitute one important set of mechanisms that affects the cultural viability of norms. To corroborate this, I exploit historical evidence indicating that sixteenth-century etiquette norms prohibiting disgusting actions were much more likely to survive than other sixteenth-century etiquette norms. This case suggests more broadly that research on cultural evolution should pay greater attention to the role of emotion systems in cultural transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-255
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Volume69
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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