David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Cultural traits are those phenotypic traits whose development depends on social learning. These include practices, skills, beliefs, desires, values, and artefacts. The distribution of cultural traits in the human species changes over time. But this is not enough to show that culture evolves. That depends on the mechanisms of change. In the cultural realm, one can often observe something similar to biology’s ‘descent with modification’: cultural traits are sometimes modified, their modifications are sometimes retained and passed on to others through social learning, until new modifications are added. In this way, new modifications are piled on top of old modifications, generating cumulative change. But, again, this is not enough to show that culture evolves. For culture to evolve, cumulative change must be the result of hidden-hand mechanisms similar to those that explain cumulative biological change. If cumulative cultural change cannot be explained in these terms, the analogy between cultural change and biological evolution is unhelpful. The best known biological mechanism is natural selection. There are reasons to think that cultural change is at least sometimes due to natural-selection-like mechanisms. The adaptive fit often found between cultural traits and the environment has in many cases been built gradually and in a way that involves natural selection operating at the cultural level. The parallel with morphological adaptation is compelling. No complete and universally accepted account of natural-selectionlike processes operating at the cultural level exists at this stage. But at least three kinds of processes seem possible.
|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
C. Driscoll (2011). Fatal Attraction? Why Sperber's Attractors Do Not Prevent Cumulative Cultural Evolution. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):301-322.
Wybo Houkes (2012). Population Thinking and Natural Selection in Dual-Inheritance Theory. Biology and Philosophy 27 (3):401-417.
Robert Aunger (2006). Culture Evolves Only If There is Cultural Inheritance. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):347-348.
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.
Alex Mesoudi (2008). Foresight in Cultural Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):243-255.
Kim Sterelny (2006). Memes Revisited. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):145-165.
Dr Liane M. Gabora (forthcoming). The Fate of Evolutionary Archaeology: Survival or Extinction? Philosophical Explorations.
Daniel Dennett & Ryan McKay (2006). A Continuum of Mindfulness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):353-354.
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Richard McElreath & Kari Britt Schroeder (2006). Analogies Are Powerful and Dangerous Things. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):350-351.
William Harms (1996). Cultural Evolution and the Variable Phenotype. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):357-375.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads100 ( #15,201 of 1,692,449 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #184,284 of 1,692,449 )
How can I increase my downloads?