Merit Is Not Meritorious Everywhere: Fairness in First and Third Party Tasks among Kogi Children

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Rafael G. Angarita Profesor Asociado, Escuela de Filosofía, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Universidad Industrial de Santander Bucaramanga, Santander Colombia

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Hugo Viciana Profesor Ayudante Doctor, Departamento de Filosofía, Lógica y Filosofía de la Ciencia, Universidad de Sevilla Sevilla Spain

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Experimental research has studied the emergence of fairness criteria such as merit and equality at increasingly younger ages. How much does the recognition and practice of these principles depend on the influence of central aspects of Western educated and industrialized societies? In an attempt to answer these questions, this article provides evidence regarding the choices of children in the Kogi indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a traditional society living in the mountains of Northern Colombia that practices swidden agriculture, cattle-raising, and enjoys a special cultural status granted by the Colombian Constitution. Two groups of 6–7 and 10–11 year olds (N = 104) were tested on a modified dictator game and several scenarios from a resource distribution task including different fairness criteria. Our results point to the lack of focality of the idea of merit among Kogi children at these ages when deciding on third-party allocation tasks, even when the design prevented equal distribution.

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