Cultural evolution, reductionism in the social sciences, and explanatory pluralism

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (3):331-361 (2000)
Abstract
This article argues that it is possible to bring the social sciences into evolutionary focus without being committed to a thesis the author calls ontological reductionism, which is a widespread predilection for lower-level explanations. After showing why we should reject ontological reductionism, the author argues that there is a way to construe cultural evolution that does justice to the autonomy of social science explanations. This paves the way for a liberal approach to explanation the author calls explanatory pluralism, which allows for the possibility of explaining cultural phenomena in terms of different evolutionary processes. Key Words: cultural evolution • reductionism • explanatory pluralism • evolutionary psychology.
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    Matt Gers (2011). The Long Reach of Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):439-447.
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