TowardsUnity - Towards a Unied Behavioral Science Herbert...

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Towards a Unifed Behavioral Science Herbert Gintis October 16, 2006 Abstract The various behavioral disciplines model human behavior in distinct and incompatible ways. Yet, recent theoretical and empirical developments have created the conditions for rendering coherent the areas of overlap of the var- ious behavioral disciplines, as outlined in this paper. The analytical tools deployed in this task incorporate core principles from several behavioral dis- ciplines. The proposed framework recognizes evolutionary theory, covering both genetic and cultural evolution, as the integrating principle of behavioral science. Moreover, if decision theory and game theory are broadened to en- compass non-self-regarding preferences, they become capable of contributing to the modeling of all aspects of decision making, including those normally considered “psychological,” “sociological” or “anthropological.” The mind as a decision-making organ then becomes the organizing principle of psychol- ogy. 1 Introduction The behavioral sciences include economics, biology, anthropology, sociology, psy- chology, and political science, as well as their subdisciplines, including neuro- science, archaeology and paleontology, and to a lesser extent, such related dis- ciplines as history, legal studies, and philosophy. 1 These disciplines have many distinct concerns, but each includes a model of individual human behavior. These models are not only different, which is to be expected given their distinct explanatory I would like to thank George Ainslie, Samuel Bowles, Rob Boyd, Dov Cohen, Ernst Fehr, BarbaraFinlay,ThomasGetty, DennisKrebs, JoeHenrich, DanielKahneman, LaurentKeller, Joachim Krueger, Larry Samuelson, Marc Hauser, the referees and many commetators on a previous version of this paper that appears in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006), and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for ±nancial support. 1 Biology straddles the natural and behavioral sciences. We include biological models of animal (including human) behavior, as well as the physiological bases of behavior, in the behavioral sciences. 1
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Unifed Behavioral Science goals, but incompatible . Nor can this incompatibility be accounted For by the type oF causality involved (e.g., “ultimate” as opposed to “proximate” explanations). This situation is well known, but does not appear discomForting to behavioral scientists, as there has been virtually no eFFort to repair this condition. 2 In their current state, however, according the behavioral sciences the status oF true sciences is less than credible. One oF the great triumphs oF Twentieth century science was the seamless inte- gration oF physics, chemistry, and astronomy, on the basis oF a common model oF Fundamental particles and the structure oF space-time. OF course, gravity and the other Fundamental Forces, which operate on extremely diFFerent energy scales, have yet to be reconciled, and physicists are oFten criticized For their seemingly endless generation oF speculative models that might accomplish this. But, a similar dissat-
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TowardsUnity - Towards a Unied Behavioral Science Herbert...

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