Fatal Attraction? Why Sperber’s Attractors do not Prevent Cumulative Cultural Evolution

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):301-322 (2011)
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In order to explain why cultural traits remain stable despite the error-proneness of social learning, Dan Sperber has proposed that human psychology and ecology lead to cultural traits being transformed in the direction of attractors. This means that simple-minded Darwinian models of cultural evolution are not appropriate. Some scientists and philosophers have been concerned that Sperber’s notion of attractors might show more than this, that attractors destroy subtle cultural variation and prevent adaptive cultural evolutionary processes from occurring. I show that Sperber’s view does not have this consequence—that even if there are attractors, cumulative cultural evolution can still occur



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Catherine Driscoll
North Carolina State University

Citations of this work

Religion as an Evolutionary Byproduct: A Critique of the Standard Model.Russell Powell & Steve Clarke - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):457-486.
Sociobiology.Harmon Holcomb & Jason M. Byron - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Sociobiology.Harmon Holcomb - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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