Focus: Experiments on Social Norms II
2020 (42) Issue 2
Table of Contents
Title: Altruistic Punishment: The Golden Keystone of Human Cooperation and Social Stability?
Author: Peter Lewisch
‘Altruistic punishment’ (i.e., costly punishment that serves no instrumental goal for the punisher) could serve, as suggested by the pertinent experimental literature, as a powerful enforcer of social norms. This paper discusses foundations, extensions, and, in particular, limits and open questions of this concept—and it does so mostly based on experimental evidence provided by the author. Inter alia, the paper relates the (standard) literature on negative emotions as a trigger of second party punishment to more recent experimental findings on the phenomenon of ‘spontaneous cooperation’ and ‘spontaneous punishment’ and demonstrates its (tight) emotional basis. Furthermore, the paper discusses the potential for free riding on altruistic punishment. While providing valuable insights into the understanding of social order, ‘altruistic punishment’ is thus not the golden keystone of social stability.
Title: Measuring Social Norms in Economics: Why It Is Important and How It Is Done
Author: Luise Görges, and Daniele Nosenzo
Experimental economics offers new tools for the measurement of social norms. In this article, we argue that these advances have the potential to promote our understanding of human behavior in fundamental ways, by expanding our knowledge beyond what we learn by simply observing human behavior. We highlight how these advancements can inform not only economic and social theory, but also policymaking. We then describe and critically assess three approaches used in economics to measure social norms. We conclude our overview with a list of recommendations to help empirical researchers choose among the different tools, depending on the nature and constraints of their research projects.
Title: What a Theory of Social Norms and Institutions Should Look Like
Author: Karl-Dieter Opp
In the previous issue of Analyse & Kritik (2020, vol. 42, issue 1) Alexander Vostroknutov (3-39) aims at a ‘synthesis’ of economics with ‘psychology, sociology, and evolutionary human biology.’ This paper argues that his approach needs to be complemented at least by work from sociologists and social psychologists. Starting with problems of defining and measuring norms it is then claimed that a theory of norms should address the origin, change and effects of norms and model micro- macro processes. This should also be the goal of a theory of institutions (which are defined here as sets of norms—norms in the sense of accepting oughtness statements). We show how the social psychological value expectancy theory can be applied to model the variety of incentives that could play a role in explaining the effects of norms. Regarding the origin Coleman’s theory of norms is applied to show how Vostroknutov’s dissatisfaction-norms hypothesis can be improved.
Title: The Legitimacy of Groups: Toward a We-Reasoning View
Author: Agnes Tam
In liberal political philosophy, a prevalent view holds that groups are typically voluntary associations. Members of voluntary associations can accept, revise or reject group practices as a matter of choice. In this article, I challenge this view. Appealing to the concept of joint commitment developed in philosophy of social science, I argue that individuals who jointly commit their wills to a goal or a belief form a ‘We’-group. Members of ‘We’-groups are under an obligation to defer to ‘Our’ will embodied in ‘Our’ norms as a matter of course. I further show the ubiquity of We-groups. This joint commitment account of group authority raises a much-overlooked question of group legitimacy: Do members have good reasons to obey norms of their group? I show that state-centric views of legitimacy are inapt to answer it. A group-centric view, revived from the old communitarian literature, is defended.
Title: Social Integration and Right-Wing Populist Voting in Germany
Author: Patrick Sachweh
Electoral support for right-wing populist parties is typically explained either by economic deprivation or cultural grievances. Attempting to bring economic and cultural explanations together, recent approaches have suggested to conceptualize right-wing populist support as a problem of social integration. Applying this perspective to the German case, this article investigates whether weak subjective social integration—or subjective social marginalization, respectively—is associated with the intention to vote for the AfD. Furthermore, it asks whether the strength of this association varies across income groups. Based on original survey data from 2017, the results show that indicators of weak subjective social integration—feeling socially excluded, being anxious about one’s status, and distrusting others—increase the likelihood of voting for the AfD. Moreover, weak subjective social integration increases right-wing party support particularly among the middle-class. Thus, next to fears of downward mobility, feelings of subjective social marginalization emerge as a pathway to right-wing populism for the middle-class.
Title: On How Expertise Ascriptions Work
Author: Christian Quast
Expertise is often ascribed to persons who are considered exceptionally competent in a particular subject matter. In contrast to this traditional approach, the present paper introduces a contextual understanding of expertise ascriptions. More precisely, this paper introduces two different kinds of contextuality by advancing and advocating the thesis that expertise ascriptions are true if and only if their content within their context of use is true against standards in the context of assessment. This means that expertise ascriptions have indexical content and are also assessment-sensitive. On this basis, a definition of expertise will be developed which outlines a series of conditions for what it takes to be an expert.
Title: Expertise as a Form of Knowledge: A Response to Quast
Author: Steve Fuller
Christian Quast has presented what he describes as a ‘role-functional’ account of expertise as a form of knowledge that purports to take into account prior discussions within recent analytic social epistemology and allied fields. I argue that his scrupulousness results in a confused version of the role-functional account, which I try to remedy by presenting a ‘clean’ account that clearly distinguishes such an account from what Quast calls a ‘competence-driven’ one. The key point of my account is that ‘competence’ pertains to knowledge in closed systems and ‘expertise’ in open systems. I observe that the invocation of ‘reliability’ as an epistemic standard simply serves to confuse the difference between the competence-driven and role-functional accounts.
Title: Précis: Our Moral Fate - Evolution And The Escape From Tribalism
Author: Allen Buchanan
The book uses evolutionary principles to explain tribalism, a way of thinking and acting that divides the world into Us versus Them and achieves cooperation within a group at the expense of erecting insuperable obstacles to cooperation among groups. Tribalism represents political controversies as supreme emergencies in which ordinary moral constraints do not apply and as zero-sum, winner take all contests. Tribalism not only undermines democracy by ruling out compromise, bargaining, and respect for the Other; it also reverses one of the most important milestones of progress in how we understand morality: the insight that morality is not a list of commands to be unthinkingly followed, but rather that morality centrally involves the giving and taking of reasons among equals. Tribalism rejects this insight by branding the Other as a being who is incapable of reasoning.
Title: Varieties of Tribalism in the Laboratory
Author: Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap
This paper uses evidence from laboratory experiments to identify a variety of tribalisms. This is important because some tribalisms encourage zerosum thinking and others do not; and some are not developed by Buchanan. This,
in turn, supplies new insights into Buchanan’s project of identifying the kinds of environment that encourage his sense of moral progress. In particular, current levels of inequality become a significant barrier to moral progress not only because they create an economic form of tribalist zero-sum thinking but they also undermine the scope for positive-sum.
Title: The Meaning of Mass Atrocities Beyond Our Moral Fate
Author: Paul Morrow
Philosophical accounts of moral progress commonly acknowledge the problem of mass atrocities. But the implications of such events for our ability to perceive, and achieve, progress are rarely considered in detail. This paper aims to address this gap. The paper takes as its starting point Allen Buchanan’s evolutionary theory of moral progress in his 2020 book Our Moral Fate. Through critical analysis of Buchanan’s theory, the paper shows that moral philosophers seeking to draw evidence from atrocities must pay closer attention to social scientific research into such crimes, and particularly to findings concerning the diverse motives, intentions, and ideological influences on perpetrators. At the same time, the paper suggests that mass atrocities exhibit the action-guiding influence not only of moral norms, but also of social and legal norms. The paper concludes by briefly considering the significance of mass atrocities for theories of moral progress beyond Our Moral Fate.