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Robert Boyd [52]Robert G. Boyd [2]Robert T. Boyd [1]
  1. Robert Boyd, A Tale of Two Defectors:The Importance of Standing for Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity.
    Indirect reciprocity occurs when the cooperative behavior between two individuals is contingent on their previous behavior toward others. Previous theoretical analysis indicates that indirect reciprocity can evolve if individuals use an image-scoring strategy. In this paper, we show that, when errors are added, indirect reciprocity cannot be based on an image-scoring strategy. However, if individuals use a standing strategy, then cooperation through indirect reciprocity is evolutionarily stable. These two strategies differ with respect to the information to which they attend. While (...)
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  2. Robert Boyd, Outline.
    This online appendix has five main sections. 1) Simulation 2) Derivation of model a. Success biases b. Migration c. Five equilibrium solutions d. Why economic interactions () between groups is likely not near zero e. Derivation of total payoffs 3) Discussion of the limitation of time-scales 4) An ethnographic example of occupational specialization, Swat Valley. 5) The evolution of the division of labor in other species..
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  3. Robert Boyd, On Modeling Cognition and Culture.
    Formal models of cultural evolution analyze how cognitive processes combine with social interaction to generate the distributions and dynamics of ‘representations.’ Recently, cognitive anthropologists have criticized such models. They make three points: mental representations are non-discrete, cultural transmission is highly inaccurate, and mental representations are not replicated, but rather are ‘reconstructed’ through an inferential process that is strongly affected by cognitive ‘attractors.’ They argue that it follows from these three claims that: 1) models that assume replication or replicators are inappropriate, (...)
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  4. Robert Boyd, Primed for Reading.
    Reading is an amazing skill. As you read this review, meaning flows from the page (or for many readers, the screen) into your brain. This happens automatically—you can’t choose not to understand the written word any more than the spoken one. It’s also highly efficient. Most people can process text two or three times faster than speech. Of course, humans have many amazing skills. We also identify objects, decode speech, and understand complex social situations automatically and efficiently. However, the machinery (...)
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  5. Robert Boyd, Supporting Information: Punishment Sustains Large-Scale Cooperation in Pre-State Warfare.
    The data were collected during 9.5 months of field work by Sarah Mathew from 2008– 2010. Participants were a representative sample of adult men reliant on nomadic pastoralism for their livelihood. We recruited them in a town close to the ethnic border frequented by nomadic Turkana who live in the surrounding 50 km radius. Recruitment was done with the help of trained local Turkana research assistants. The RA approached potential participants, briefly introduced them to the study, and then asked them (...)
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  6. Robert Boyd, The Cultural Niche.
    In the last 60,000 years humans have expanded across the globe and now occupy a wider range than any other terrestrial species. Our ability to successfully adapt to such a diverse range of habitats is often explained in terms of our cognitive ability. Humans have relatively bigger brains and more computing power than other animals and this allows us to figure out how to live in a wide range of environments. Here we argue that humans may be smarter than other (...)
     
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  7. Robert Boyd, Monique Bogerhoff-Mulder & Peter J. Richerson, Are Cultural Phylogenies Possible?
    Biology and the social sciences share an interest in phylogeny. Biologists know that living species are descended from past species, and use the pattern of similarities among living species to reconstruct the history of phylogenetic branching. Social scientists know that the beliefs, values, practices, and artifacts that characterize contemporary societies are descended from past societies, and some social science disciplines, linguistics and cross cultural anthropology for example, have made use of observed similarities to reconstruct cultural histories. Darwin appreciated that his (...)
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  8. Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, Cooperation, Reciprocity and Punishment in Fifteen Small- Scale Societies.
    Recent investigations have uncovered large, consistent deviations from the predictions of the textbook representation of Homo economicus (Roth et al, 1992, Fehr and Gächter, 2000, Camerer 2001). One problem appears to lie in economists’ canonical assumption that individuals are entirely self-interested: in addition to their own material payoffs, many experimental subjects appear to care about fairness and reciprocity, are willing to change the distribution of material outcomes at personal cost, and reward those who act in a cooperative manner while punishing (...)
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  9. Robert Boyd, Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter J. Richerson, Arthur Robson, Jeffrey R. Stevens & Peter Hammerstein, Individual Decision Making and the Evolutionary Roots of Institutions.
    Humans hunt and kill many different species of animals, but whales are our biggest prey. In the North Atlantic, a male long-fi nned pilot whale (Globiceph- ala melaena), a large relative of the dolphins, can grow as large as 6.5 meters and weigh as much as 2.5 tons. As whales go, these are not particularly large, but there are more than 750,000 pilot whales in the North Atlantic, traveling in groups, “pods,” that range from just a few individuals to a (...)
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  10. Robert Boyd & Simon A. Levin, Punishment Sustains Large-Scale Cooperation in Prestate Warfare.
    Understanding cooperation and punishment in small-scale societies is crucial for explaining the origins of human cooperation. We studied warfare among the Turkana, a politically uncentralized, egalitarian, nomadic pastoral society in East Africa. Based on a representative sample of 88 recent raids, we show that the Turkana sustain costly cooperation in combat at a remarkably large scale, at least in part, through punishment of free-riders. Raiding parties comprised several hundred warriors and participants are not kin or day-to-day interactants. Warriors incur substantial (...)
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  11. Robert Boyd & Peter Richerson, Style, Function, and Cultural Evolutionary Processes.
    Version 4.4 October, 1994 Introduction When explaining human behavior, anthropologists frequently distinguish the things that people do of their own free will from the things they do because they have to. In much of anthropology, and most American archaeology, this is the difference between style and function. Functional behaviors are the things people are constrained to do; stylistic behaviors are the things people do when unconstrained. Where necessity stops and free choice begins is, of course, a classic problem of social (...)
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  12. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Culture and the Evolution of Human Cooperation.
    Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article - sign up in the box at the top here right-hand corner of the article or click..
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  13. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Group Beneficial Norms Can Spread Rapidly in a Structured Population.
    Group beneficial norms are common in human societies. The persistence of such norms is consistent with evolutionary game theory, but existing models do not provide a plausible explanation for why they are common. We show that when a model of imitation used to derive replicator dynamics in isolated populations is generalized to allow for population structure, group beneficial norms can spread rapidly under plausible conditions. We also show that this mechanism allows recombination of different group beneficial norms arising in..
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  14. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Norms and Bounded Rationality.
    Anthropologists believe that human behavior is governed by culturally transmitted norms, and that such norms contain accumulated wisdom that allows people to behave sensibly even though they do not understand why they do what they do. Economists and other rational choice theorists have been skeptical about functionalist claims because anthropologists have not provided any plausible mechanism which could explain why norms have this property. Here, we outline two such mechanisms. We show that occasional learning when coupled with cultural transmission and (...)
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  15. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Rapid Cultural Adaptation Can Facilitate the Evolution of Large-Scale Cooperation.
    Over the past several decades, we have argued that cultural evolution can facilitate the evolution of largescale cooperation because it often leads to more rapid adaptation than genetic evolution, and, when multiple stable equilibria exist, rapid adaptation leads to variation among groups. Recently, Lehmann, Feldman, and colleagues have published several papers questioning this argument. They analyze models showing that cultural evolution can actually reduce the range of conditions under which cooperation can evolve and interpret these models as indicating that we (...)
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  16. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Shared Norms Can Lead to the Evolution of Ethnic Markers.
    Most human populations are subdivided into ethnic groups which have self-ascribed membership and are marked by seemingly arbitrary traits such as distinctive styles of dress or speech. Existing explanations of ethnicity do not adequately explain the origin and maintenance of group marking. Here we develop a mathematical model which shows that groups distinguished by both differences in social norms and in arbitrary markers can emerge and remain stable despite significant mixing between them, if (1) people preferentially interact in mutually beneficial (...)
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  17. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Transmission Coupling Mechanisms: Cultural Group Selection.
    The application of phylogenetic methods to cultural variation raises questions about how cultural adaption works and how it is coupled to cultural transmission. Cultural group selection is of particular interest in this context because it depends on the same kinds of mechanisms that lead to tree-like patterns of cultural variation. Here, we review ideas about cultural group selection relevant to cultural phylogenetics. We discuss why group selection among multiple equilibria is not subject to the usual criticisms directed at group selection, (...)
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  18. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, The Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity.
    Human societies are based on cooperation among large numbers of genetically unrelated individuals. This behavior is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective. Because cooperators are..
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  19. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Why Does Culture Increase Human Adaptability?
    It is often argued that culture is adaptive because it allows people to acquire useful information without costly learning. In a recent paper Rogers (1989) analyzed a simple mathematical model that showed that this argument is wrong. Here we show that Rogers' result is robust. As long as the only benefit of social learning is that imitators avoid learning costs, social learning does not increase average fitness. However, we also show that social learning can be adaptive if it (...)
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  20. Michelle A. Kline & Robert Boyd, Population Size Predicts Technological Complexity in Oceania.
    Much human adaptation depends on the gradual accumulation of culturally transmitted knowledge and technology. Recent models of this process predict that large, well-connected populations will have more diverse and complex tool kits than small, isolated populations. While several examples of the loss of technology in small populations are consistent with this prediction, it found no support in two systematic quantitative tests. Both studies were based on data from continental populations in which contact rates were not available, and therefore these studies (...)
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  21. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Culture is Part of Human Biology.
    Rates of violence in the American South have long been much greater than in the North. Accounts of duels, feuds, bushwhackings, and lynchings occur prominently in visitors’ accounts, newspaper articles, and autobiography from the 18th Century onward. According to crime statistics these differences persist today. In their book, Culture of Honor, Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen (1996) argue that the South is more violent than the North because Southerners have different, culturally acquired beliefs about personal honor than Northerners. The South (...)
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  22. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Complex Societies: The Evolutionary Origins of a Crude Superorganism.
    The complexity of human societies of the past few thousand years rivals that of social insect societies. We hypothesize that two sets of social “instincts” underpin and constrain the evolution of complex societies. One set is ancient and shared with other social primate species, and one is derived and unique to our lineage. The latter evolved by the late Pleistocene, and led to the evolution of institutions of intermediate complexity in acephalous societies. The institutions of complex societies often conflict with (...)
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  23. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Evolution on a Restless Planet: Were Environmental Variability and Environmental Change Major Drivers of Human Evolution?
    Two kinds of factors set the tempo and direction of organic and cultural evolution, those external to biotic evolutionary process, such as changes in the earth’s physical and chemical environments, and those internal to it, such as the time required for chance factors to lead lineages across adaptive valleys to a new niche space (Valentine 1985). The relative importance of these two sorts of processes is widely debated. Valentine (1973) argued that marine invertebrate diversity patterns responded to seafloor spreading as (...)
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  24. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, The Evolution of Free Enterprise Values.
    Free enterprise economic systems evolved in the modern period as culturally transmitted values related to honesty, hard work, and education achievement emerged. One evolutionary puzzle is why most economies for the past 5,000 years have had a limited role for free enterprise given the spectacular success of modern free economies. Another is why if humans became biologically modern 50,000 years ago did it take until 11,000 years ago for agriculture, the economic foundation of states, to begin. Why didn’t free enterprise (...)
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  25. Peter Richerson & Robert Boyd, Constraints on the Development of Agriculture.
    Evolutionary scholars advance two major sorts of hypotheses to explain big events, such as the origin of agriculture. One hypothesis assumes that natural selection is so powerful that organisms are always close to an evolutionary equilibrium with current environment. Thus, any major changes will be a result of external processes having to do with the environment. The other camp imagines that evolution is a slow, halting, and biased process that is limited and directed by internal obstacles that thwart what natural (...)
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  26. Joan B. Silk & Robert Boyd, Cheap Talk When Interests Conflict.
    Most evolutionary analyses of animal communication suggest that low-cost signals can evolve only when both the signaller and the recipient rank outcomes in the same order. When there is a conflict of interest between sender and receiver, honest signals must be costly. However, recent work suggests that low-cost signals can be evolutionarily stable, even when the sender and the receiver rank outcomes in different orders, as long as the interest in achieving coordination is sufficiently great. In this paper, we extend (...)
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  27. Robert Boyd, When Does Optional Participation Allow the Evolution of Cooperation?
    Altruistic punishment has been shown to invade when rare if individuals are allowed to opt out of cooperative ventures. Individuals that opt out do not contribute to the common enterprise or derive benefits from it. This result is potentially significant because it offers an explanation for the origin of large-scale cooperation in oneshot interactions among unrelated individuals. Here, we show that this result is not a general consequence of optional participation in cooperative activities, but depends on special assumptions about cooperative (...)
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  28. Robert Boyd, Why Is Culture Adaptive?
    species is the extent t0 which behavior is acquired by teaching and imitation. The rapid radiation of the human species into a large variety of ecological niches over a wide geographical range during the last 100,000 years suggests that this mode of adaptation may be quite effective. Until recently, however, few evolutionary biologists have attempted to identify the properties of cultural transmission that make it an effective way of acquiring behavior. Very different answers to this question have been suggested by (...)
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  29. Robert Boyd & Joseph Henrich, Division of Labor, Economic Specialization, and the Evolution of Social Stratification.
    This paper presents a simple mathematical model that shows how economic inequality between social groups can arise and be maintained even when the only adaptive learning process driving cultural evolution increases individuals’ economic gains. The key assumptions are that human populations are structured into groups and that cultural learning is more likely to occur within than between groups. Then, if groups are sufficiently isolated and there are potential gains from specialization and exchange, stable stratification can sometimes result. This model predicts (...)
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  30. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Gene–Culture Coevolution and the Evolution of Social Institutions.
    Social institutions are the laws, informal rules, and conventions that give durable structure to social interactions within a population. Such institutions are typically not designed consciously, are heritable at the population level, are frequently but not always group benefi cial, and are often symbolically marked. Conceptualizing social institutions as one of multiple possible stable cultural equilibrium allows a straightforward explanation of their properties. The evolution of institutions is partly driven by both the deliberate and intuitive decisions of individuals and collectivities. (...)
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  31. Robert Boyd & Peter J. Richerson, Payoff Biased Migration and the Evolution of Group Beneficial Behavior.
    Human migration is nonrandom. In small scale societies of the past, and in the modern world, people tend to move to wealthier, safer, and more just societies from poorer, more violent, less just societies. If immigrants are assimilated, such nonrandom migration can increase the occurrence of culturally transmitted beliefs, values, and institutions that cause societies to be attractive to immigrants. Here we describe and analyze a simple model of this process. This model suggests that long run outcomes depend on the (...)
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  32. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Migration: An Engine for Social Improvement the Movement of People Into Societies That Offer a Better Way of Life is a More Powerful Driver of Cultural Change Than Conflict and Conquest.
    As cultural evolutionists interested in how culture changes over the long term, we've thought and written a lot about migration, but only recently tumbled to an obvious idea: migration has a profound effect on how societies evolve culturally because it is selective. People move to societies that provide a more attractive way of life, and all other things being equal, this process spreads ideas and institutions that lead to economic efficiency, social order and equality.
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  33. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Why Possibly Language Evolved.
    Human syntactic language has no close parallels in other systems of animal communication. Yet it seems to be an important part of the cultural adaptation that serves to make humans the earth’s dominant organism. Why is language restricted to humans given that communication seems to be so useful? We argue that language is part of human cooperation. We talk because others can normally trust what we say to be useful to them, not just to us. Models of gene-culture coevolution give (...)
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  34. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (forthcoming). Natural Selection and Culture. BioScience.
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  35. Michelle A. Kline, Robert Boyd & Joseph Henrich (2013). Teaching and the Life History of Cultural Transmission in Fijian Villages. Human Nature 24 (4):351-374.
    Much existing literature in anthropology suggests that teaching is rare in non-Western societies, and that cultural transmission is mostly vertical (parent-to-offspring). However, applications of evolutionary theory to humans predict both teaching and non-vertical transmission of culturally learned skills, behaviors, and knowledge should be common cross-culturally. Here, we review this body of theory to derive predictions about when teaching and non-vertical transmission should be adaptive, and thus more likely to be observed empirically. Using three interviews conducted with rural Fijian populations, we (...)
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  36. Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, Sarah Mathew & Peter J. Richerson (2012). The Punishment That Sustains Cooperation is Often Coordinated and Costly. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (1):20 - 21.
    Experiments are not models of cooperation; instead, they demonstrate the presence of the ethical and other-regarding predispositions that often motivate cooperation and the punishment of free-riders. Experimental behavior predicts subjects' cooperation in the field. Ethnographic studies in small-scale societies without formal coercive institutions demonstrate that disciplining defectors is both essential to cooperation and often costly to the punisher.
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  37. Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson & Joseph Henrich (2008). Five Misunderstandings About Cultural Evolution. Human Nature 19 (2):119-137.
    Recent debates about memetics have revealed some widespread misunderstandings about Darwinian approaches to cultural evolution. Drawing from these debates, this paper disputes five common claims: (1) mental representations are rarely discrete, and therefore models that assume discrete, gene-like particles (i.e., replicators) are useless; (2) replicators are necessary for cumulative, adaptive evolution; (3) content-dependent psychological biases are the only important processes that affect the spread of cultural representations; (4) the “cultural fitness” of a mental representation can be inferred from its successful (...)
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  38. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2008). Response to Our Critics. Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):301-315.
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  39. Robert Boyd & Peter Richerson (2006). Culture, Adaptation, and Innateness. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.
    It is almost 30 years since the sociobiology controversy burst into full bloom. The modern theory of the evolution of animal behavior was born in the mid 1960’s with Bill Hamilton’s seminal papers on inclusive fitness and George William’s book Adaptation and Natural Selection. The following decade saw an avalanche of important ideas on the evolution of sex ratio, animal conflicts, parental investment, and reciprocity, setting off a revolution our understanding of animal societies, a revolution that is still going on (...)
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  40. Robert Boyd & Peter I. Richerson (2005). Culture, Adaptation. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind. Oxford University Press. 2--23.
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  41. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis, Richard McElreath, Michael Alvard, Abigail Barr, Jean Ensminger, Natalie Smith Henrich, Kim Hill, Francisco Gil-White, Michael Gurven, Frank W. Marlowe & John Q. Patton (2005). “Economic Man” in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (6):795-815.
    Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments from around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether the uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the university students used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public goods, and dictator games in a range of (...)
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  42. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis, Richard McElreath, Michael Alvard, Abigail Barr, Jean Ensminger, Natalie Smith Henrich, Kim Hill, Francisco Gil-White, Michael Gurven, Frank W. Marlowe, John Q. Patton & David Tracer (2005). Models of Decision-Making and the Coevolution of Social Preferences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (6):838-855.
    We would like to thank the commentators for their generous comments, valuable insights and helpful suggestions. We begin this response by discussing the selfishness axiom and the importance of the preferences, beliefs, and constraints framework as a way of modeling some of the proximate influences on human behavior. Next, we broaden the discussion to ultimate-level (that is evolutionary) explanations, where we review and clarify gene-culture coevolutionary theory, and then tackle the possibility that evolutionary approaches that exclude culture might be sufficient (...)
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  43. Robert Boyd & Spencer K. Wertz (2003). Does Film Weaken Spectator Consciousness? Journal of Aesthetic Education 37 (2):73-79.
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  44. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2001). Built for Speed, Not for Comfort. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 23:423-463.
  45. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (2000). Climate, Culture and the Evolution of Cognition. In Celia Heyes & Ludwig Huber (eds.), The Evolution of Cognition. Mit Press. 329--45.
    What are the causes of the evolution of complex cognition? Discussions of the evolution of cognition sometimes seem to assume that more complex cognition is a fundamental advance over less complex cognition, as evidenced by a broad trend toward larger brains in evolutionary history. Evolutionary biologists are suspicious of such explanations since they picture natural selection as a process leading to adaptation to local environments, not to progressive trends. Cognitive adaptations will have costs, and more complex cognition will evolve only (...)
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  46. Robert Boyd (1999). Kinds, Complexity, and Multiple Realization. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):67-98.
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  47. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1999). Complex Societies. Human Nature 10 (3):253-289.
    The complexity of human societies of the past few thousand years rivals that of social insect societies. We hypothesize that two sets of social “instincts” underpin and constrain the evolution of complex societies. One set is ancient and shared with other social primate species, and one is derived and unique to our lineage. The latter evolved by the late Pleistocene, and led to the evolution of institutions of intermediate complexity in acephalous societies. The institutions of complex societies often conflict with (...)
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  48. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1997). Built for Speed, Not for Comfort. Darwinian Theory and Human Culture. Philosophica 60 (3/4):425 - 465.
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  49. Peter Richerson & Robert Boyd (1992). Darwinian Models of Culture: Toward Replacing the Nature/Nurture Dichotomy. World Futures 34 (1):43-57.
    (1992). Darwinian models of culture: Toward replacing the nature/nurture dichotomy. World Futures: Vol. 34, Evolutionary Models in the Social Sciences, pp. 43-57.
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  50. Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd (1987). Simple Models of Complex Phenomena: The Case of Cultural Evolution. In John Dupre (ed.), The Latest on the Best: Essays on Evolution and Optimality. Mit Press. 27--52.
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