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Bicchieri, Cristina, , . The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms
2006, Cambridge University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Jurgis Karpus

Publisher’s Note: In The Grammar of Society, first published in 2006, Cristina Bicchieri examines social norms, such as fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity, in an effort to understand their nature and dynamics, the expectations that they generate, and how they evolve and change. Drawing on several intellectual traditions and methods, including those of social psychology, experimental economics and evolutionary game theory, Bicchieri provides an integrated account of how social norms emerge, why and when we follow them, and the situations where we are most likely to focus on relevant norms. Examining the existence and survival of inefficient norms, she demonstrates how norms evolve in ways that depend upon the psychological dispositions of the individual and how such dispositions may impair social efficiency. By contrast, she also shows how certain psychological propensities may naturally lead individuals to evolve fairness norms that closely resemble those we follow in most modern societies.

Comment: Extracts from Bicchieri’s book can be read in a course that covers game theory and social norms. Bicchieri’s book is famous and highly praised for its contribution to our understanding of how social norms form and influence our choice behaviour in day-to-day social interactions. Christina Bicchieri has recently also co-authored a revised version of the entry ‘social norms’ in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP).

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Hieronymi, Pamela, , . Controlling Attitudes
2006, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 87 (1):45-74
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: I hope to show that, although belief is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, “believing at will” is impossible; one cannot believe in the way one ordinarily acts. Further, the same is true of intention: although intention is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, the features of belief that render believing less than voluntary are present for intention, as well. It turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that you can no more intend at will than believe at will.

Comment: I find this paper to be a valuable addition to classes on implicit biases, reasons, and moral psychology. It provides a good basis for discussion on how these topics relate to free will, and what sorts of control (and responsibilities) we have over our mental lives – including our desires, our beliefs, and other thoughts.

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