The Evolution of Value Systems: A Review Essay on Ian Morris's Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels†

The Evolution of Value Systems: A Review Essay on Ian Morris's Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil... AbstractForagers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve is a large-scale history of the world through the different modes of production humanity has adopted over time and their implications in terms of moral values. Morris argues that the predominant value systems of human societies are cultural adaptations to the organizational structures of the societies themselves, their institutions, and ultimately to their modes of production. In particular, the book contains a careful analysis of how the hunting–gathering mode of production induces egalitarian values and relatively favorable attitudes toward violent resolution of conflicts, while farming induces hierarchical values and less favorable attitudes toward violence, and in turn the fossil fuel (that is, industrial) mode of production induces egalitarian values and nonviolent attitudes. The narrative in the book is rich, diverse, and ultimately entertaining. Morris's analysis is very knowledgeable and informative: arguments and evidence are rooted in history, anthropology, archeology, and social sciences in general. Nonetheless, the analysis falls short of being convincing about the causal nature of the existing relationship between modes of production and moral value systems. ( JEL A13, D02, N30, N60, Z13) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Economic Literature American Economic Association

The Evolution of Value Systems: A Review Essay on Ian Morris's Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels†

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Publisher
American Economic Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 © American Economic Association
ISSN
0022-0515
D.O.I.
10.1257/jel.20151352
Publisher site
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Abstract

AbstractForagers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve is a large-scale history of the world through the different modes of production humanity has adopted over time and their implications in terms of moral values. Morris argues that the predominant value systems of human societies are cultural adaptations to the organizational structures of the societies themselves, their institutions, and ultimately to their modes of production. In particular, the book contains a careful analysis of how the hunting–gathering mode of production induces egalitarian values and relatively favorable attitudes toward violent resolution of conflicts, while farming induces hierarchical values and less favorable attitudes toward violence, and in turn the fossil fuel (that is, industrial) mode of production induces egalitarian values and nonviolent attitudes. The narrative in the book is rich, diverse, and ultimately entertaining. Morris's analysis is very knowledgeable and informative: arguments and evidence are rooted in history, anthropology, archeology, and social sciences in general. Nonetheless, the analysis falls short of being convincing about the causal nature of the existing relationship between modes of production and moral value systems. ( JEL A13, D02, N30, N60, Z13)

Journal

Journal of Economic LiteratureAmerican Economic Association

Published: Sep 1, 2017

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