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Demographic Cultures and Demographic Skepticism

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThe social sciences often explain behavioral differences by appealing to membership in distinct cultural groups. This work uses the concepts of “cultures” and “cultural groups” like any other demographic category (e.g. “gender”, “socioeconomic status”). I call these joint conceptualizations of “cultures” and “cultural groups” jats:italicdemographic cultures</jats:italic>. Such demographic cultures have long been subject to scrutiny. Here I isolate and respond to a set of arguments I call jats:italicdemographic skepticism</jats:italic>. This skeptical position denies that the demographic cultures concept can support metaphysically plausible and empirically principled research. I argue against the skeptic, showing that their position relies on a questionable alignment between the demographic cultures concept and what I call the jats:italicfolk anthropological model</jats:italic>. While the commitments of that model are problematic—they are not necessary for comparative work in the social sciences. In addition to clarifying skeptical arguments, then, I provide four recommendations for the comparative social scientist that allow them to avoid demographic skepticism.</jats:p>


Acknowledgements: I am grateful to audiences at the University of Cambridge, Brunel University London, and the Cultural Evolution Online group for valuable feedback on this paper. Special thanks to Alberto Acerbi, Rohan Kapitány, Tim Lewens, and Cristina Moya for their comments and insights.


5003 Philosophy, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies

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Review of Philosophy and Psychology

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Leverhulme Trust (ECF 2018-005)
Isaac Newton Trust (G101655)