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glevy at glevy at
Mon Jul 10 19:13:42 MDT 1995

Lisa (we're all glad to hear that you have returned!) wrote:

> I claim that c/b analysis is justified (theoretically grounded) by
> evolutionary theory, and it is very useful in understanding the
> behavior of living things.
How do you measure the "costs" and the "benefits"?  For instance, if a
particular action results in the loss of life, what is the cost of the
life that is lost to the individual, the family and the society?
Conversely, how do we measure the benefit of a life that is saved?  It
has to be remembered that c/b analysis attempts to answer such questions
in *price* terms.  If c/b analysis is very problematic within a
capitalist mode of production where there is commodity production (i.e.
products which are produced in order to be sold on the market for a price
which can be transformed into profit), wouldn't the use of that form of
analysis be even more suspect within a non-capitalist social formation
where there is no price determination?

Lisa continues:

> But the point of this approach is to think about "property" in a
> different way, to analyze it in terms of the material/social
> circumstances that behavior creates and responds to.  And to relate
> behavior to opportunities presented by the local physical environment
> [job-opportunity].
> My very own subfield of anthropology is thus addressing questions of
> "the interaction between individual and society".  And just because
> we are targetting foraging peoples as a place to eludicate some of
> those interactions does not mean that our results are inapplicable to
> the rest of the world.
> Any bites on these comments?
Just one more small bite.  The last sentence is true tautologically.  The
question is *how* does your study of foraging peoples have applicability
to the rest of the world?  Once you answer that question, then we can
discuss whether the conclusions that you suggest are applicable to areas
of the contemporary social world.


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