Notes on Recent Natural History of Normativity

Patrick Maynard192-209

Abstract: Notes on Recent Natural History of Normativity

Recent scientific studies provide new bases for understanding the origin of norms in features that make our species unique.  A main line, by M. Tomasello, traces evolution’s departure from great apes via ‘group intentionality’: ‘we’-consciousness, by contrast with apes’ basically competitive one. This appears in children’s roles in games, whence develop senses of equality and fairness. Another, by C. Trevarthen, finds advantage for this mentality in newborns’ interest in close ‘attachment’ relationships to mothers, as shown in ‘proto-conversation’ mutual miming, and outward-looking interests in attracting others as companions in activities—explained by Sarah Hrdy’s ‘mothers and others’ hypothesis.