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Old 04-18-2008, 04:18 PM
jaoneal jaoneal is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Default 3rd person vs. 1st

Bob is wrong to imply that others are necessarily in a better situation (than we ourselves are) to explain our behavior. The sorts of '1st person' cognitive biases he refers to are just as prevalent in our explanations of others as ourselves.

When someone makes a decision with bad consequences they are predisposed to view the cause of the decision as external--so Pres. Bush might see his decision to remove WMDs from Iraq in terms of the bad information that the CIA and others (such as former Pres. Clinton) were giving him.

From the 3rd person point of view, humans are much more likely to view a decision with bad consequences as due to something internal to the person making the choice. I.e. a Bush critic will see the decision as due to something internal to president Bush ("he was stupid", "He wanted the oil", "he is a warmonger", etc.).

The same biases will simply reverse in case of a decision with good consequences. (i.e. a bush critic will attribute the declines in violence in post-surge iraq to the Iraqis rather than anything bush did).

We are in no better position to explain someone else than we are ourselves. Our biases simply reverse.

It is also wierd for someone like Bob, who claims to be a big fan of evolutionary psychology, to claim to be an economic determinist. Part of the renewed popularity of darwinian psychology was Dawkins (and others) claim that much behavior can be explained in terms of group/kin selection--i.e. causal forces from 'below' the level of the individual. According to this view, rather than my own material circumstances defining by my concerns, I ought to be just (if not more) concerned about the wealth of my kin and group, rather than my own material status.
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