The Case for Memes

Biological Theory 3 (4):305-315 (2008)
The significant theoretical objections that have been raised against memetics have not received adequate defense, even though there is ongoing empirical research in this field. In this paper I identify the key objections to memetics as a viable explanatory tool in studies of cultural evolution. I attempt to defuse these objections by arguing that they fail to show the absence of replication, high-fidelity copying, or lineages in the cultural domain. I further respond to meme critics by arguing that, despite competing explanations of cultural evolution, memetics has unique explanatory power. This is largely founded upon the increasing likelihood of formulating a workable fitness measure for memes, a memetic index. I conclude that memes must be integrated with psychological bias and population-dynamic approaches to cultural evolution.
Keywords memes  cultural evolution  fidelity
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1162/biot.2008.3.4.305
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,209
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Daniel C. Dennett (1991). Real Patterns. Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Kim Sterelny (2006). Memes Revisited. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):145-165.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (2000). The Replicator in Retrospect. Biology and Philosophy 15 (3):403-423.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Matt Gers (2011). The Long Reach of Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):439-447.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Kim Sterelny (2006). Memes Revisited. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):145-165.
Robert Boroch (2011). Against Memetics. Hybris. Revista de Filosofía (15):69-99.
Robert Boroch (2011). Against Memetics. Hybris. Revista de Filosofía (15):62-99.
Susan Blackmore (2005). Implications for Memetics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):490-490.
Susan Blackmore (2006). Why We Need Memetics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):349-350.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

72 ( #66,041 of 1,941,072 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

12 ( #74,094 of 1,941,072 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.