The Emergence of Property Concerns in Ontogeny and Phylogeny

february, 2015

09feb12:00 pm1:30 pmThe Emergence of Property Concerns in Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Event Details

Federico Rossano, Max Plank Institute
Social theorists as diverse as Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Marx have suggested that without the institution of property modern civil society would not exist. All human societies care about ownership of at least some kinds of things (Brown, 1991; Hann, 1998), yet young children struggle to understand property and come only gradually to an understanding of ownership and how it may be legitimately transferred. Little is known about non-human primates understanding of property, in that they appear to have a sense of possession and will fight to protect the food that is in their physical control (Kummer & Cords, 1991; Sigg & Falett, 1985), but there is currently no evidence that they have any sense of ownership (i.e., they would respect others’ property even when they are absent) (Brosnan, 2011). In this talk I present a series of studies on preschoolers investigating their understanding of (i) under which conditions who owns what (call them ‘‘conditions of ownership’’ rules), and (ii) what implications (rights, commitments, entitlements, etc.) owning which objects carries under which conditions (call them ‘‘implications of ownership’’ rules). I will then present some additional studies investigating the role played by communication and cooperation in the sustainability of property as a social institution. I will finally compare the behavior of preschoolers and non-human primates in situations testing their tendency to respect other individuals’ properties and to protest when their property is violated.

Lunch provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. BEC requests a $6 donation.



(Monday) 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Haines Hall 352

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