Prospects for a dual inheritance model of emotional evolution

Philosophy of Science 74 (5):848-859 (2007)
Abstract
A common objection to adaptationist accounts of human emotions is that they ignore the influence of culture. If complex emotions like guilt, shame and romantic jealousy are largely culturally determined, how could they be biological adaptations? Dual inheritance models of gene/culture coevolution provide a potential answer to this question. If complex emotions are developmentally ‘scaffolded' by norms that are transmitted from parent to offspring with reasonably high fidelity, then these emotions can evolve to promote individual reproductive interests. This paper draws on case studies of emotional development to illustrate how complex emotions satisfy these conditions. Many of the norms and parenting strategies influencing emotional development are absorbed during the early stages of life when a child is in primary contact with its parents and before the onset of complex cognition. These conditions make it likely that emotion-governing norms are transmitted vertically and with relatively little cognitive ‘contamination'. ‡Thanks to Mark Colyvan, Paul Griffiths, Alexander Rosenberg, and John Wilkins for helpful comments on previous drafts. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia; e-mail: s.linquist@uq.edu.au.
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