David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In [Book Chapter] (Unpublished) (1998)
Species evolve, very slowly, through selection of genes which give rise to phenotypes well adapted to their environments. The cultures, including the languages, of human communities evolve, much faster, maintaining at least a minimum level of adaptedness to the external, non- cultural environment. In the phylogenetic evolution of species, the transmission of information across generations is via copying of molecules, and innovation is by mutation and sexual recombination. In cultural evolution, the transmission of information across generations is by learning, and innovation is by sporadic invention or borrowing from other cultures. This much is the foundational bedrock of evolutionary theory. But things get more complicated; there can be gene-culture co-evolution. Prior to the rise of culture, the physical environment is the only force shaping biological evolution from outside the organism, and cultures themselves are clearly constrained by the evolved biological characteristics of their members. But cultures become part of the external environment, and influence the course of biological evolution. For example, altruistic cultures with developed medical knowledge reduce the cost to the individual of carrying genes disposing to certain pathologies (such as diabetes); and such genes become more widespread in the populations maintaining such cultures. Assortative mating can affect biological evolution, and particular cultures may influence the factors which are sorted for in mating. (For a careful discussion of the effects of cultural evolution on natural selection, see Cavalli-Sforza and Bodmer, 1971:774- 804). This paper examines mechanisms involved in the co-evolution of a biological trait, the critical period for language acquisition, and a property of human cultures, the size of their languages. A gene/culture interaction will be shown that can be described as a kind of symbiosis, but perhaps more aptly as an `arms race'. In this introduction, we will sketch the basic mechanics of the interaction in very broad terms; the rest of the paper will explain and justify the details. The implications of our model for second language acquisition are given toward the end of the paper.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
William Irons (2009). The Intertwined Roles of Genes and Culture in Human Evolution. Zygon 44 (2):347-354.
Werner Mende & Kathleen Wermke (2006). A Long Way to Understanding Cultural Evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):358-359.
Marion Blute (1987). Biologists on Sociocultural Evolution: A Critical Analysis. Sociological Theory 5 (2):185-193.
Russell Powell (2012). The Future of Human Evolution. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):145-175.
William Harms (1996). Cultural Evolution and the Variable Phenotype. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):357-375.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee & Marcus W. Feldman (2000). Niche Construction, Biological Evolution, and Cultural Change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):131-146.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads18 ( #98,490 of 1,101,946 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #192,006 of 1,101,946 )
How can I increase my downloads?