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Neuroscience Can Help Us Understand Social Transitions

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  • John M. Gowdy

    () (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 12180-3590, USA)

Abstract

Human cultural adaptability helped our species get through several extreme environmental crises during the 200,000 year history of Homo sapiens. Richerson, Boyd and Henrich (2010) argue that this adaptability is a product of gene-culture coevolution. Much has been written about cultural evolution, but relatively little attention has been paid to the role human neurobiology plays in this process. I argue here that neuroscience can make important contributions to understanding human behavior within highly evolved social systems. This can help inform us as to how a transition to sustainability might be possible as we struggle to make it through the population, climate change, and resource bottlenecks of the 21st century. I argue further than the idea of homeostasis can serve as an organizing principle to understand individual, social and ecological sustainability.Creation-Date: 2010-11

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Gowdy, "undated". "Neuroscience Can Help Us Understand Social Transitions," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 1009, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rpi:rpiwpe:1009
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    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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