The swashbuckling anthropologist: Henrich on The Secret of Our Success [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):289-305 (2017)
In The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich claims that human beings are unique—different from all other animals—because we engage in cumulative cultural evolution. It is the technological and social products of cumulative cultural evolution, not the intrinsic rationality or ‘smartness’ of individual humans, that enable us to live in a huge range of different habitats, and to dominate most of the creatures who share those habitats with us. We are sympathetic to this general view, the latest expression of the ‘California school’s’ view of cultural evolution, and impressed by the lively and interesting way that Henrich handles evidence from anthropology, economics, and many fields of biology. However, because we think it is time for cultural evolutionists to get down to details, this essay review raises questions about Henrich’s analysis of both the cognitive processes and the selection processes that contribute to cumulative cultural evolution. In the former case, we argue that cultural evolutionists need to make more extensive use of cognitive science, and to consider the evidence that mechanisms of cultural learning are products as well as processes of cultural evolution. In the latter case, we ask whether the California school is really serious about selection, or whether it is offering a merely ‘kinetic’ view of cultural evolution, and, assuming the former, outline four potential models of cultural selection that it would be helpful to distinguish more clearly.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-016-9554-y
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,495
External links

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
What Can Imitation Do for Cooperation?Cecilia Heyes - 2013 - In Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott & Ben Fraser (eds.), Cooperation and its Evolution. MIT Press. pp. 313.
Who Knows? Metacognitive Social Learning Strategies.Cecilia Heyes - forthcoming - Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 41 (123):162-170.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Reasons to Be Fussy About Cultural Evolution.Olivier Morin - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (3):447-458.
Fatal Attraction? Why Sperber's Attractors Do Not Prevent Cumulative Cultural Evolution.C. Driscoll - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):301-322.
Can Sociobiology Adapt to Cultural Selection?Sandra D. Mitchell - 1986 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:87 - 96.
Memes Revisited.Kim Sterelny - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):145-165.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
24 ( #225,613 of 2,210,574 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #207,693 of 2,210,574 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature