Vol. 43, Number 4, Autumn 2022

Heroism and Prestige in Two Popular War Films
Richard T. McClelland, Nanaimo, British Columbia

This essay focuses primarily on Fury (2014) and to a lesser extent on Saving Private Ryan (1998), two popular war films. I suggest cognitive mechanisms that make the actions of main characters biologically plausible and intelligible. The principal ones have to do with social status and especially prestige, which is based on certain kinds of competence, especially in heroic leaders. Prestige is understood to be co-created by leaders and followers together. Heroism is understood to be depicted in these films as effective leadership in extreme circumstances so as to solve collective action problems. Heroic qualities are signaled (honestly) by means of wounds and scars. These signals are received and understood (both in the films and in their viewers) by means of social learning and social comparison judgments that track prestige. Group cohesion is also explored, especially in Fury, in terms of shared emotions, mimicry, rituals, and commitment to a common task. Hatred of morally defined out-groups is also seen at work. I conclude that these films posit warfare as one of a small number of “biologically possible arrangements” that accomplish a rare concatenation of fitness promoting goals. Some consideration is also given to what makes consilience between empirical science and cinematic imagination possible.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Prof. Richard T. McClelland, Ph.D., 730 Drake Street, Nanaimo, BC, V9S 2T1, Canada. Email: richmcc999@gmail.com

Free Will, Temporal Asymmetry, and Computational Undecidability
Stuart T. Doyle, Third Force Reconnaissance Company, USMC

One of the central criteria for free will is “Could I have done otherwise?” But because of a temporal asymmetry in human choice, the question makes no sense. The question is backward-looking, while human choices are forward-looking. At the time when any choice is actually made, there is as of yet no action to do otherwise. Expectation is the only thing to contradict (do other than). So the ability to do something not expected by the ultimate expecter, Laplace’s demon, is a better criterion for free will. If human action is fundamentally unpredictable, then we have free will. Scientists have studied a form of fundamental unpredictability, known as undecidability. The features that make a system capable of undecidable dynamics have been identified: program-data duality; potential to access an infinite computational medium; and the ability to implement negation. Humans have all three of these features, so we very likely are fundamentally unpredictable, so we have free will.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stuart T. Doyle, 3rd Force Recon Co, 1630 S Broad Street, Mobile, Alabama 36605. Email: stuartdoyle1@gmail.com

Pareto’s Problem: An Analysis of Human Behavior
Christopher Adair–Toteff, University of South Florida

Vilfredo Pareto published his Trattato di sociologia generale in 1916 and in the intervening century it has not achieved any degree of prominence in sociology. Pareto’s problem is that his writings have either been neglected or attacked. The reason for Pareto’s problem is that sociologists have not understood what Pareto set out to achieve. Although he claimed to have written a treatise on general sociology, his sociological ideas differed from most of his contemporaries and many of their successors. While sociologists tend to explain social interactions by focusing on groups, Pareto looked to the individual. While sociologists have sought to explain social interactions by examining the rational foundations for those interactions, Pareto regarded those explanations as nothing more than pseudo justifications. Pareto insisted that people are prompted to act because of their passions and then they provide “rational” explanations to justify them. Pareto’s Trattato is an analysis of human behavior — not sociology as generally accepted, but as a particular type of social psychology. By understanding what Pareto intended to accomplish, perhaps scholars will finally accord Vilfredo Pareto a place in the history of sociology, and thereby solve Pareto’s problem.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Christopher Adair–Toteff, 323 Monticello Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902. Email: csa-t@web.de

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