Date of Award

5-1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Michael H. Logan

Committee Members

Benita Howell, Jan Simek, Gordon Burghardt

Abstract

Celibacy is an altruistic act when it involves an individual's sacrifice of lifelong reproduction for the benefit of others. Where this occurs for the primary benefit of non-kin, as in many institutions which demand celibacy of their members, it will often be difficult to maintain. This dissertation explores the institutionalized maintenance and reinforcement of celibacy vows through the concept of induced altruism. Because humans generally recognize kin only by means of indirect cues, these cues may be manipulated so that individuals behave altruistically for the benefit of non-kin. Human kinship-recognition cues include association, phenotypic similarity, and the use of kinship terms and symbols. Additional factors which can aid kinship manipulation include young developmental age of potential altruists and their separation from true kin. A central prediction stemming from this model is that the manipulation of these kinship recognition cues and associated factors should be present in celibate institutions whose members are unlikely to be close genetic relatives. An appraisal of historical sources on major religions that exhibit institutionalized celibacy, as well as a comparative analysis of ethnographic data drawn from the Sample of Cross-Cultural Societies, support this prediction.

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