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Old 03-06-2006, 05:02 PM
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Human group size

Doing some reading today and thinking about Hume's distinction between natural and artifical virtues. The distinction is important because natural virtues don't require deliberate social conditioning whereas artificial virtues need to be taught and sanctioned. It occured to me that the distinction rests almost completely on group size. Does anyone know much about the evolution of human group size? For instance, when was the first human group formed of more than 150 people? Where did it happen? As I read Hume's views, we see the advantage of the division of labor but 150 people is too small to divide labor and create a market, so we invent 'morality' or 'artificial justice' so that we can function in larger groups and gain the obvious benefits of city (market town) life.
I came across Dunbar's number (http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html) but haven't found any info on the timeline up to and beyond the threshold.

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Old 03-06-2006, 05:48 PM
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Old 03-06-2006, 07:34 PM
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I recommend "Cannibals and Kings" by Marvin Harris. He talks an awful lot about evolution of culture in that book, though I don't recall a specific discussion of size. He did address population size in relative terms.

And Kerry. Harris is also a Marxist in that he sees a pattern of advancement in cultural evolution that he believes is consistent. I don't know anything about Harris' politics per se (nor really anything else about him).

B

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