Mindreading, mindshaping, and evolution

Biology and Philosophy 16 (5):595-626 (2002)
Abstract
I present and apply some powerful tools for studying human evolution and the impact of cultural resources on it. The tools in question are a theory of niche construction and a theory about the evolutionary significance of extragenetic (and, in particular, of psychological and social) inheritance. These tools are used to show how culturally transmitted resources can be recruited by development and become generatively entrenched. The case study is constituted by those culturally transmitted items that social psychologists call ‘expectancies’. Expectancy effects are mindshaping effects of our mindreading dispositions. I show how expectancies may have been recruited by important human developmental processes (like those involved in language acquisition and those responsible for gender differences) and how they may have become entrenched. If the hypothesis is correct, the relation between mindreading and human evolution is more intricate than usually thought
Keywords Biology  Evolution  Mind  Science
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