Fatal Attraction? Why Sperber's Attractors do not Prevent Cumulative Cultural Evolution

In order to explain why cultural traits remain stable despite the error-proneness of social learning, Dan Sperber has proposed that human psychology and ecology lead to cultural traits being transformed in the direction of attractors. This means that simple-minded Darwinian models of cultural evolution are not appropriate. Some scientists and philosophers have been concerned that Sperber’s notion of attractors might show more than this, that attractors destroy subtle cultural variation and prevent adaptive cultural evolutionary processes from occurring. I show that Sperber’s view does not have this consequence—that even if there are attractors, cumulative cultural evolution can still occur
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axq032
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