A debate on Robin Dunbar’s social brain hypothesis
This post is part of a Webinar, Debating Dunbar's Number.
Some months ago, an article by Jan de Ruiter, Gavin Weston and Stephen Lyon appeared in American Anthropologist. The paper's target is Robin Dunbar's Social brain hypothesis. The hypothesis comes in many varieties; one might sum it up as the view that our cognitive capacities keep the amount of friends we can have under a fixed threshold, and constrain the size of primate societies. (This summary is inadequate in many ways, as I hope this debate will show.)
Dunbar's hypothesis is one of the most popular piece of cognitive anthropology out there. It is also one of the most criticized in anthropological circles. Our site wouldn't be true to its vocation if it did not invite all the protagonists to an open debate.
This week, Jan de Ruiter and his coauthors, as well as Robin Dunbar, will react on two posts, one defending the social brain hypothesis (posted today), the other defending the critics (to appear wednesday). Everyone from the ICCI community is welcomed to chime in.
Link to Jan de Ruiter et al.'s article.
Link to Robin Dunbar, 'The social brain hypothesis' (1998).