Social intelligence: how to integrate research? A mechanistic perspective

Proceedings of the European Conference on Social Intelligence (ECSI-2014) (2014)
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Abstract
Is there a field of social intelligence? Many various disciplines ap-proach the subject and it may only seem natural to suppose that different fields of study aim at explaining different phenomena; in other words, there is no spe-cial field of study of social intelligence. In this paper, I argue for an opposite claim. Namely, there is a way to integrate research on social intelligence, as long as one accepts the mechanistic account to explanation. Mechanistic inte-gration of different explanations, however, comes at a cost: mechanism requires explanatory models to be fairly complete and realistic, and this does not seem to be the case for many models concerning social intelligence, especially models of economical behavior. Such models need either be made more realistic, or they would not count as contributing to the same field. I stress that the focus on integration does not lead to ruthless reductionism; on the contrary, mechanistic explanations are best understood as explanatorily pluralistic.
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