The Pleasures and Perils of Darwinizing Culture (with Phylogenies)

Biological Theory 2 (4):360-375 (2007)
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Abstract

Current debates about “Darwinizing culture” have typically focused on the validity of memetics. In this article we argue that meme-like inheritance is not a necessary requirement for descent with modification. We suggest that an alternative and more productive way of Darwinizing culture can be found in the application of phylogenetic methods. We review recent work on cultural phylogenetics and outline six fundamental questions that can be answered using the power and precision of quantitative phylogenetic methods. However, cultural evolution, like biological evolution, is often far from treelike. We discuss the problems reticulate evolution can cause for phylogenetic analyses and suggest ways in which these problems can be overcome. Our solutions involve a combination of new methods for the study of cultural evolution , and the triangulation of different lines of historical evidence. Throughout we emphasize that most debates about cultural phylogenies can only be settled by empirical research rather than armchair speculation

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Citations of this work

Model Organisms are Not (Theoretical) Models.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):327-348.
Cultural evolution.Tim Lewens - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Value of Diversity in Cognitive Science.Andrea Bender - 2019 - Topics in Cognitive Science 11 (4):853-863.
Do We Need a Device to Acquire Ethnic Concepts?Adam Hochman - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):994-1005.

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References found in this work

On the Origin of Species.Charles Darwin - 2008 - Minneapolis, MN: Oxford University Press.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.
The Descent of Man.Charles Darwin - 1874 - Prometheus Books.

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