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Public Goods can be seen as one important way in which societies sustain themselves over time. These are part of the puzzle of the development of political order. Public goods like the rule of law are non-substractable and non-excludable . For economists the classic textbook examples are national defense and police protection. In this paper I argue that religiosity can function like police protection, a means of sustaining order through fear of punishment from a transcendent source. As a means of reducing defection from social norms it has a role to play as a public good. But religion cannot at the same time be seen as the source of such norms or dissention will undermine the very order that punishment seems to reinforce.
Conventionally, flags are explained as symbols of group solidarity that achieve force through ritual processes. Alternatively, flags may be seen as symbols with positive or negative associations derived from our experiences with physical space. While this article accepts these interpretations, it also argues that they need to be augmented. Flag meaning is not entirely a social or linguistic construction because there is a link between flag displays and our inherent predispositions to cues about social rank. Our evolved social intelligence makes us sensitive to the topographic features of flag displays that signal relationships of dominance and subordination.
The ethologically oriented method of social analysis developed by Edward Westermarck is applied to the subjects of charitable behavior, the welfare ethic, and the link between them. Westermarck dealt with these topics, but not in the depth he accorded the subjects of incest aversion, the incest prohibition, and the connection between them. Westermarck's approach to analyzing incest behavior and regulating institutions is also useful in the case of charitableness and the welfare ethic. Westermarck would have analyzed the welfare ethic as an institution derived from human nature — secundam naturam — in addition to an authoritative discipliner of behavior as proposed by Freud. Evidence is presented that this is the case with the welfare ethic in modern societies. This evidence includes the sensitivity of welfare to ethnic diversity. The latter decreases public altruism, whether expressed as charitableness to beggars, national charities, or public goods. The parochial leaning of charity and the welfare ethic is allowed for by Westermarck's empirically grounded ethics. Despite the passage of nearly a century, Edward Westermarck can still be an instructive guide to the biosociological enterprise. This continuing relevance shows what could have been, and can still be, done with the conceptual tools offered by an evolutionarily informed sociology.
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