Friday, July 5, 2013

Social Evolution Forum

I was browsing around at Tim Tyler's memetics blog and came across a link to Social Evolution Form. From the About page:

Michael Hochberg Scientific Advisory Board of the Evolution Institute; CNRS, France

Peter Turchin Vice President of the Evolution Institute; University of Connecticut, USA

Harvey Whitehouse Scientific Advisory Board of the Evolution Institute; University of Oxford, UK

The Social Evolution Forum (SEF) is supported by the Evolution Institute and by Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History

The Social Evolution Forum is a new platform aimed at promoting communication, discussion, and collaboration on diverse topics related to human society.

A central question of social evolution is elucidating the mechanisms and dynamics that resulted in the rise of large-scale complex human societies. How did ultrasociality (the ability of humans to cooperate in huge groups of unrelated individuals) evolve? Although much progress has been recently made in understanding the first phase of human social evolution, from ape-like ancestors to small-scale groups of hunter-gatherers, much remains to be discovered, and the area continues to generate high interest among the researchers. Even more controversial is the second phase, the evolution of large-scale hierarchically organized societies with cities, states, extensive division of labor, writing, monumental architecture, etc. There is currently no consensus on the processes and mechanisms that were responsible for this major evolutionary transition.

We think that conceptual and empirical tools are now sophisticated enough to make possible dramatic breakthroughs in this discipline. The stakes are enormous – not only because of the scale of the intellectual puzzle and intrinsic interest in the emergence of states, empires and civilizations, but also because of potential application in addressing such societal problems as war and failed states, and more optimistically trust, peace and large-scale cooperation.
And so forth.

Someone remind me to read this piece by Elinor Ostrum,  Enhancing the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, and this one by Harvey Whitehouse, Three Wishes for the World.

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