Download e-book for kindle: The Theory of Cultural and Social Selection by W. G. Runciman

By W. G. Runciman

Within the thought of Cultural and Social choice, W. G. Runciman offers an unique and wide-ranging account of the elemental strategy wherein human cultures and societies become of different forms that they're. Drawing on and increasing contemporary advances in neo-Darwinian evolutionary conception, Runciman argues that collective human behaviour could be analyzed because the acting-out of data transmitted on the 3 separate yet interacting degrees of heritable edition and aggressive choice - the organic, the cultural, and the social. the consequences which this incorporates for a reformulation of the conventional schedule of comparative and historic sociology are explored with assistance from chosen examples, and found in the context of present debates approximately sociological thought and perform. the idea of Cultural and Social choice is a succinct and hugely imaginitive contribution to 1 of the nice highbrow debates of our occasions, from one of many world's prime social theorists.

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But in the application of selectionist theory, as a leading evolutionary game theorist has aptly put it, ‘it is the strategies that come to the fore; the individuals that implement them on various occasions recede from view’ (Skyrms 1996: 10). 3 All selectionist explanations are ‘just-so stories’ in which the link between selective pressure and evolutionary outcome is identified only in hindsight. The term ‘just-so story’ is commonly used in a pejorative sense, which is perhaps why some philosophers of science prefer to talk about ‘how possibly’ explanations.

What it may, on the other hand, do – which is a very different thing – is make you more aware than you would otherwise be that your subjective mental experiences are a seriously unreliable guide to the explanation of why you behave as you do. Introspection can, pace the Behaviourists, tell us quite a lot about ourselves. But it cannot tell us whether our intuitively persuasive explanations of our own behaviour, and that of the group or community to which we belong, are valid. As to freedom of will, it is undeniable that if any sociologist studying your behaviour is foolish enough to offer you a prediction of how you will vote, what product you will buy, whether you will go to work tomorrow morning, or who you will choose to invite to a meal, you can falsify the prediction from no other motive than to discomfit the predictor.

It is then on the ­carriers interacting Providential epidemiology has a history which not only goes back, in Europe, to pre-Christian convictions that plagues and other natural disasters are a punishment for offending the gods but forward to mid-nineteenth-century Britain and the Evangelicals’ doctrine of ‘Atonement’. Hilton (1988: 155, 113) quotes Thomas Watson’s influential textbook of 1843, Lectures on the Principles and Practices of Physic, where he says that ‘It is ours to know in how many instances, forming indeed a vast majority of the whole, bodily suffering and sickness are the natural fruits of evil courses’, as well as the Rev.

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