Humanevolution explains how we have found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Issues of modern living; depression, obesity, and environmental destruction, can be understood in relation to our evolutionary past. This book shows how an awareness of this past and its relation to the present can help limit their impact on the future.
Contrary to chimpanzees and bonobos, humans display long-term exclusive relationships between males and females. Probably all human cultures have some kind of marriage system, apparently designed to protect these exclusive relationships and the resulting offspring in a potentially sexual competitive environment. Different hypotheses about the origin of human pair-bonds are compared and it is shown how they may refer to different phases of humanevolution.
In the first volume of his ambitious trilogy, Petrinovich brings concepts from evolutionary biology, neurophysiology, and cognitive science to bear on such controversial issues as contraception, abortion, infanticide, new reproductive ...
In this controversial new book O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behavior in terms of evolution. He contends that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the human world. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines (...) the nature of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account of such distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in the Preface, "we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life.". (shrink)
Controlled fire use by early humans could have facilitated the evolution of human cooperation. Individuals with regular access to the benefits of domestic fire would have been at an advantage over those with limited or no access. However, a campfire would have been relatively costly for an individual to maintain and open to free riders. By cooperating, individuals could have reduced maintenance costs, minimized free riding and lessened the risk of being without fire. Cooperators were more likely to (...) survive and reproduce than uncooperative individuals because the former would have been better able to maximize a fire’s returns and enjoy regular access to its benefits. This is how the emergence of controlled fire use in Pleistocene human populations could have facilitated the evolution of cooperation. (shrink)
To explain the evolutionary emergence of uniquely human skills and motivations for cooperation, Tomasello et al. (2012, in Current Anthropology 53(6):673–92) proposed the interdependence hypothesis. The key adaptive context in this account was the obligate collaborative foraging of early human adults. Hawkes (2014, in Human Nature 25(1):28–48), following Hrdy (Mothers and Others, Harvard University Press, 2009), provided an alternative account for the emergence of uniquely human cooperative skills in which the key was early human infants’ (...) attempts to solicit care and attention from adults in a cooperative breeding context. Here we attempt to reconcile these two accounts. Our composite account accepts Hrdy’s and Hawkes’s contention that the extremely early emergence of human infants’ cooperative skills suggests an important role for cooperative breeding as adaptive context, perhaps in early Homo. But our account also insists that human cooperation goes well beyond these nascent skills to include such things as the communicative and cultural conventions, norms, and institutions created by later Homo and early modern humans to deal with adult problems of social coordination. As part of this account we hypothesize how each of the main stages of human ontogeny (infancy, childhood, adolescence) was transformed during evolution both by infants’ cooperative skills “migrating up” in age and by adults’ cooperative skills “migrating down” in age. (shrink)
There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...) go on to consider the implications of genetic engineering for human nature, humanevolution, and persistence of the human species. Finally, we question whether genetic interventions warrant the extraordinary ethical scrutiny they are often given, and we show how the misleading “genetic blueprint” metaphor has imposed a faulty structure on the enhancement debate. We conclude by considering the nature of biological development and the sobering limits it places on what genetic engineering can reasonably hope to achieve. (shrink)
The United Nations (UN), facing increasingly intense challenges in the fulfillment of its mission, also harbors the potential for enhanced effectiveness, relevance, and legitimacy in the form of the human rights-based approach. The human rights-based approach (HRBA) is one model for translating the organization’s values into a more adaptive, inclusive, dynamic, and responsive system of processes and outcomes. In the arena of politics, its meeting with a meaningful degree of receptiveness could signal a growing acceptance of the validity (...) of structural approaches to development and other issues despite traditional defensive positions on human rights. Application of the HRBA in programming is leading to greater appreciation for addressing core disparities and promoting empowerment for sustainable outcomes. It is also cultivating new qualities in development practitioners, advancing creativity, openness and responsiveness in organizational culture. In feeding its evolution in this way, the UN as a system has the potential for deeper, longer-term mission fulfillment and thus ensuring its viability. (shrink)
One of the particular problems in the debate between science and theology regarding human origins seems to be an apparent controversy between the continuous character of evolutionary processes leading to the origin of Homo sapiens and the punctual understanding of the act of creation of man seen as taking place in a moment in time. The paper elaborates scientific arguments for continuity or discontinuity of evolution, and what follows, for the existence or nonexistence of a clear borderline between (...) our species and the rest of the living world. It is argued that, due to the conventional character of the notion of species, anthropology is unable to point to a moment in time or a place on Earth when or where Homo sapiens came into existence as a ‘really new’ species. The argument of the non˗specificity of humans is reinforced by considering emotional homologies between man and apes, “cultural” transmission of the patterns of behaviour in animals, or their mental and communicational abilities. All this is in line with a more general philosophical view of ontological continuity of the world. However, the argument is counterbalanced by pointing to such human characteristics as the ability to use abstract notions, or those forms of human behaviour which do not seem to have their animal analogues. In turn, various possibilities of theological interpretations of the act of creation of man are pointed out and a question is considered as to what extent theology is interested in a "momentary" account of this act. By pointing to theological accounts proposed as early as the 2nd century, it is argued that a vision of God – the craftsman who ‘builds’ its creation step by step, or even less restrictive forms of divine interventionism, are theologically inadequate. The original opposition between the continuity of evolutionary processes and ‘punctual’ character of creation is thus weakened and, from that perspective, a solution to the controversy in question is sought. One of such solutions, an “evolutionary model of creation”, a form of evolutionary creationism, proposed by a Polish philosopher Kazimierz Kloskowski, is presented. This model is based on two assumptions, stemming from process philosophy and evolutionary epistemology. The need to apply them in constructing a coherent view on evolution and creation is critically considered in the paper. (shrink)
Research from ethology and evolutionary biology indicates the following about the evolution of reasoning capacity. First, solving problems of social competition and cooperation have direct impact on survival rates and reproductive success. Second, the social structure that evolved from this pressure is the dominance hierarchy. Third, primates that live in large groups with complex dominance hierarchies also show greater neocortical development, and concomitantly greater cognitive capacity. These facts suggest that the necessity of reasoning effectively about dominance hierarchies left an (...) indelible mark on primate reasoning architectures, including that of humans. In order to survive in a dominance hierarchy, an individual must be capable of (a) making rank discriminations, (b) recognizing what is forbidden and what is permitted based one's rank, and (c) deciding whether to engage in or refriin from activities that will allow one to move up in rank. The first problem is closely tied to the capacity for transitive reasoning, while the second and third are intimately related to the capacity for deontic reasoning. I argue that the human capacity for these types of reasoning have evolutionary roots that reach deeper into our ancestral past than the emergence of the hominid line, and the operation of these evolutionarily primitive reasoning systems can be seen in the development of human reasoning and domain-specific effects in adult reasoning. (shrink)
The concept of preadaptation, though useful, continues to trouble evolutionary scientists. Usually, it is treated as if it were really adaptation, prompting such diverse theorists as Gould and Vrba, and Dennett to suggest its removal from evolutionary theory altogether. In this paper, I argue that the as-if sense is ill-founded, and that the sense of preadaptation as a process may be defended as unequivocal and generally useful in evolutionary explanations, even in such problem areas as humanevolution.
The main problem discussed in this paper is: Why and how did animal cognition abilities arise? It is argued that investigations of the evolution of animal cognition abilities are very important from an epistemological point of view. A new direction for interdisciplinary researches – the creation and development of the theory of human logic origin – is proposed. The approaches to the origination of such a theory (mathematical models of ``intelligent invention'' of biological evolution, the cybernetic schemes (...) of evolutionary progress and purposeful adaptive behavior) as well as potential interdisciplinary links of the theory are described and analyzed. (shrink)
In a critical review of late twentieth-century gene-culture co-evolutionary models labelled as ‘global phylogeny’, the authors present evidence for the long legacy of co-evolutionary theories in European-based thinking, highlighting that ideas of social and cultural evolution preceded the idea of biological evolution, linguistics played a dominant role in the formation of a unified theory of human co-evolution, and that co-evolutionary thinking was only possible due to perpetuated and renewed transdisciplinary reticulations between scholars of different disciplines—especially within (...) the integrative framework of the ‘humanid’ and the ‘hominid’ branches of anthropology. (shrink)
This article takes an evolutionary “reverse engineering” standpoint on Homo discens, learning man, to track down the mechanisms that played a pivotal role in the natural selection of human being. The approach is “evolutionary sociological”—as opposed to gene-centred or psychologising—and utilises notions of co-evolutionary organism–environment transactions and niche construction. These are compatible with a Deweyan theory of action, which entails that in action one cannot but learn and one can only learn in action. Special attention is paid to apprentice-like (...) learning-by-doing peculiar to human socio-cultural niches since the Pleistocene, which has permitted each subsequent generation to learn the many habits and skills needed in utilising the affordances of action that constitute their ecological niche. Affordances and actions have changed over the history of human–environment transactions, but the core mechanisms of human learning have not changed much. It is increasingly important to appreciate these mechanisms now in the global age “knowledge society,” which is in a way similar to the Pleistocene era: characterised by uncertainty and life-determining problem-situations without any ready-made solutions, it calls for capacities to adapt to changing circumstances, and thus apprentice-like learning in action supported by savvy epistemological engineering of learning environments. (shrink)
Psychological evidence suggests that laypeople understand the world around them in terms of intuitive ontologies which describe broad categories of objects in the world, such as ‘person’, ‘artefact’ and ‘animal’. However, because intuitive ontologies are the result of natural selection, they only need to be adaptive; this does not guarantee that the knowledge they provide is a genuine reflection of causal mechanisms in the world. As a result, science has parted ways with intuitive ontologies. Nevertheless, since the brain is evolved (...) to understand objects in the world according to these categories, we can expect that they continue to play a role in scientific understanding. Taking the case of humanevolution, we explore relationships between intuitive ontological and scientific understanding. We show that intuitive ontologies not only shape intuitions on humanevolution, but also guide the direction and topics of interest in its research programmes. Elucidating the relationships between intuitive ontologies and science may help us gain a clearer insight into scientific understanding. (shrink)
Evolutionary development is sometimes thought of as exhibiting an inexorable trend towards higher, more complex, and normatively worthwhile forms of life. This paper explores some dystopian scenarios where freewheeling evolutionary developments, while continuing to produce complex and intelligent forms of organization, lead to the gradual elimination of all forms of being that we care about. We then consider how such catastrophic outcomes could be avoided and argue that under certain conditions the only possible remedy would be a globally coordinated policy (...) to control humanevolution by modifying the fitness function of future intelligent life forms. (shrink)
This essay critiques dual-inheritance theory as presented in Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd's book Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed HumanEvolution (2005). The theory states that culture became prominent in humanevolution because it allowed relatively rapid adaptation to changing environments by means of imitation. Imitating the behavior of other members of one's community produces adaptive behaviors more readily than either genetic evolution or individual learning. Imitation follows a number of patterns: imitating high-status (...) individuals, imitating the most common forms of behavior, imitating behaviors perceived to be the most effective solutions to various problems relevant to survival. This process combined with occasional innovations in behavior lead to a process of cultural evolution involving populations of cultural variants. Different local human populations were associated with different local populations of cultural variants, and both the human and the cultural populations evolved over time. Humanevolution cannot be understood without taking into account these parallel processes of genetic and cultural evolution. Not by Genes Alone traces the implication of dual-inheritance theory for understanding humanevolution and refers to various bodies of evidence relevant to the theory. (shrink)
Brain size has increased threefold during the course of humanevolution, whilst body weight has approximately doubled. These increases in brain and body size suggest that reproductive rates must have slowed considerably during this period. During the same period, however, environmental heterogeneity has increased substantially. A central tenet of life-history theory states that in heterogeneous environments, organisms with fast life histories will be favoured. The human lineage, therefore, has proceeded in direct contradiction of this theory. This contribution (...) attempts to resolve this contradiction by recourse to Godfrey-Smith’s Environmental Complexity Thesis, which states that the function of cognition is to enable the organism to deal with environmental complexity. It is suggested that among slowly reproducing organisms the behavioural flexibility provided by advanced cognitive abilities is a fundamental component of adaptation to heterogeneous environments. In the human lineage this flexibility is manifest particularly in the increasing complexity of material culture. (shrink)
What does human evolutionary theory reveal about the origins of human nature and the constraints it imposes on human cognition, behavior, and society? “The whole field of humanevolution is pregnant with philosophical questions of great interest”, Michael Ruse concludes in the final passage of The Philosophy of HumanEvolution. This engaging and eminently readable romp through the philosophical landscape of humanevolution fills a significant niche in the existing literature. There (...) are numerous scientific texts surveying historical and contemporary problems in the field of humanevolution, and there are many philosophical texts exploring conceptual and methodological problems in evolutionary theory. Ruse interweaves scientific and philosophical work on humanevolution with the latest work in biological theory to produce a unique and timely book, one that addresses a range of important topics that rarely find their way into works of this genre. With a relentless lucidity and charming, f .. (shrink)
The orthogenetic development of some characteristic features during the evolution of the Hominidae has been pointed out. Especially brain- and skull development have been dwelt on . A parallel has been drawn with the orthogenetic development of some characteristic features during the evolution of the Equidae. It appears that during humanevolution early-ontogenetic features come more and more to the front whereas during the evolution of Horses these characters are more and more pushed back in (...) ontogeny. By this, humanevolution, at least as concerns the orthogenetically developing features which happen to be very characteristic of the organisation of Man, shows a generalising developmental tendency whereas that of Horses shows on the whole a specialising tendency.Some modes in which early-ontogenetic characters can be present in the adult stages are dealt with such asBolk's theory of retardation andSchindewolf's theory of proterogenesis which are considered not to differ very much in essentials. Also the principle of development along a roundabout way is mentioned in this connection and some examples are given.A better understanding of orthogenetic evolution and of the differences existing between that of the Hominidae and that of the Equidae is found in the principle of heterochronic development, the change of developmental intensity and the rate of growth of features in the ontogenies of allied forms. This is illustrated by the two diagrams of Fig. 2. Here we also established connection with the science of genetics which can explain experimentally the heterochronous shifting of features in compared ontogenies by difference in rate of action and quantitative action value of genes or sets of genes.Il est démontré que le développement phylogénétique de certains caractères morphologiques chez les Hominides est orthogénétique. Principalement le développement du cerveau et du crâne est discuté dans cette connection. Comparativement le développement orthogénétique de certains caractères pendant la phylogénie des Equides est traité. Il résulte que pendant l'évolution humaine des caractères fetaux se misent progressivement en premier plan dans les ontogénèses pendant que ceux dans la phylogénie des Equides se misent de plus en plus en arrière-plan ontogénétiquement. Dans cette manière l'évolution humaine montre, aux moins relative aux caractères orthogénétiques, qui sont exactement très caractéristiques pour l'organisation de l'Homme, une tendence généralisante de développement, celle des Equides au contraire une tendence spécialisante.Quelques possibilités avec lesquelles des caractères fetaux peuvent paraître dans la phase adulte sont discutées comme la théorie de retardation deBolk et la théorie de développement proterogénétique deSchindewolf. Celles-ci sont regardées comme principalement pas différentes. Aussi le principe de développement selon un détour est nommé dans cette connection et quelques exemples en sont donnés.Le principe du développement hétérochronique, le changement de l'intensité et de la vitesse du développement chez des caractères des formes alliés, nous donne un meilleur notion de l'évolution orthogénétique et de la différence, cité ci-dessus, entre la phylogénie humaine et celle des Equides. Ceci est démontré détaillé avec des exemples à l'aide des deux diagrammes de Fig. 2. Dans, cette façon une connection est mise avec la science génétique, qui peut expliquer expérimentalement le développement hétérochronique des caractères morphologiques dans des ontogénèses comparables par des différences dans la vitesse d'action et dans la réalisation quantitative des gènes.Es wird gezeigt wie die phylogenetische Entwicklung einiger charakteristischen Merkmale bei den Hominiden orthogenetisch verläuft. Vor allem werden Gehirn- und Schädelentwicklung in dieser Weise betrachtet. Vergleichenderweise wird die orthogenetische Entwicklung von einigen charakteristischen Merkmalen während der Phylogenie der Equidae besprochen. Es ergibt sich, dass während der menschlichen Evolution früh-ontogenetische Merkmale immer mehr in den Vordergrund treten während solche in der Phylogenie der Equiden immer mehr zurück treten in der Ontogenie. In dieser Weise zeigt sich die menschliche Evolution, wenigstens was den sich orthogenetisch entwickelnden Merkmalen anbelangt, welche gerade sehr charakteristisch für die Organisation des Menschen sind, eine verallgemeinerende Entwicklungstendenz, die der Equidae dagegen eine spezialisierende.Einige Möglichkeiten durch welche früh-ontogenetische Merkmale im erwachsenen Zustand auftreten können werden besprochen, so die Retardationstheorie vonBolk und die Proterogenesistheorie vonSchindewolf. Diese werden als nicht grundverschieden betrachtet. Auch das Prinzip der umwegigen Entwicklung vonNauck wird in diesem Zusammenhang genannt und einige Beispiele gegeben.Das Prinzip der heterochronischen Entwicklung, die Abänderung der Entwicklungsintensität und der Wachstumsgeschwindigkeit bei Merkmalen von verwandten Formen bietet uns einen besseren Begriff von der orthogenetischen Evolution und von dem oben angeführten Unterschied zwischen der menschlichen Phylogenie und der der Equidae. Dies wird näher ausgeführt und mit Beispielen belegt mit Hilfe der beiden Diagramme von Fig. 2. In dieser Weise wird auch eine Verbindung hergestellt mit der genetischen Wissenschaft, die in experimenteller Weise im Stande ist die heterochrone Verschiebung von Merkmalseigenschaften in vergleichbaren Ontogenesen durch Unterschiede in der Geschwindigkeit der Wirkung und in dem quantitativen Verwirklichungswert der Gene zu erklären. (shrink)
This article addresses the issue of human imagination from the perspective of 'niche construction' in the wider discussion about 'what makes us human' and what it means to be a 'self', specifically for the Christian faith and for theology. In the article, a brief review of human origins and humanevolution demonstrates the path and substantive impact of changes in behaviour, life histories and bodies in our human ancestors and us as humans ourselves. In (...) the interactive process of niche construction, potentially changeable natural environments were, and are, acting continuously on variation in the gene pools of populations, and in this way gene pools were modified over generations. It is argued that a distinctively human imagination is part of the explanation for human evolutionary success and can be seen as one of the structurally significant aspects of the transition from earlier members of the genus Homo to ourselves as we are today. There is thus a naturalness to human imagination, even to religious imagination, that facilitates engagement with the world that is truly distinct. This provides fruitful addition to the toolkit of inquiry for both evolutionary scientists and interdisciplinary theologians interested in reconstructing the long, winding historical path to humanity. (shrink)
HumanEvolution provides a comprehensive overview of hominid evolution, synthesising data and approaches from fields as diverse as physical anthropology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, genetics, archaeology, psychology and philosophy. The book starts with chapters on evolution, population genetics, systematics, and the methods for constructing evolutionary trees. These are followed by a comprehensive review of the fossil history of humanevolution since our divergence from the apes. Subsequent chapters cover more recent data, both fossil and (...) molecular, relating to the evolution of modern humans. A final section describes the evolution of culture, language, art, and morality.The authors are leading experts in two complementary fields of scholarship, physical anthropology and molecular evolution. Throughout the book they successfully integrate their expertise in evolutionary theory, phylogenetics, genomics, cultural evolution, language, aesthetics and morality to produce a cutting edge textbook, copiously illustrated and with an extensive and up-to-date bibliography. It will be suitable for both senior undergraduate and graduate level students taking courses on humanevolution within departments of biology, anthropology, psychology and philosophy. The book will also appeal to a more general audience seeking a readable, up-to-date and inclusive treatment of human origins and evolution. (shrink)
In this book, Benoît Dubreuil explores the creation and destruction of hierarchies in humanevolution. Combining the methods of archaeology, anthropology, cognitive neuroscience and primatology, he offers a natural history of hierarchies from the point of view of both cultural and biological evolution. This volume explains why dominance hierarchies typical of primate societies disappeared in the human lineage and why the emergence of large-scale societies during the Neolithic period implied increased social differentiation, the creation of status (...) hierarchies, and, eventually, political centralisation. (shrink)
HumanEvolution provides a comprehensive overview of hominid evolution, synthesising data and approaches from fields as diverse as physical anthropology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, genetics, archaeology, psychology and philosophy. The book starts with chapters on evolution, population genetics, systematics, and the methods for constructing evolutionary trees. These are followed by a comprehensive review of the fossil history of humanevolution since our divergence from the apes. Subsequent chapters cover more recent data, both fossil and (...) molecular, relating to the evolution of modern humans. A final section describes the evolution of culture, language, art, and morality. The authors are leading experts in two complementary fields of scholarship, physical anthropology and molecular evolution. Throughout the book they successfully integrate their expertise in evolutionary theory, phylogenetics, genomics, cultural evolution, language, aesthetics and morality to produce a cutting edge textbook, copiously illustrated and with an extensive and up-to-date bibliography. It will be suitable for both senior undergraduate and graduate level students taking courses on humanevolution within departments of biology, anthropology, psychology and philosophy. The book will also appeal to a more general audience seeking a readable, up-to-date and inclusive treatment of human origins and evolution. (shrink)
Can the origins of morality be explained entirely in evolutionary terms? If so, what are the implications for Christian moral theology and ethics? Is the latter redundant, as socio-biologists often assert? Stephen Pope argues that theologians need to engage with evolutionary theory rather than ignoring it. He shows that our growing knowledge of humanevolution is compatible with Christian faith and morality, provided that the former is not interpreted reductionistically and the latter is not understood in fundamentalist ways. (...) Christian ethics ought to incorporate evolutionary approaches to human nature to the extent that they provide helpful knowledge of the conditions of human flourishing, both collective and individual. From this perspective, a strong affirmation of human dignity and appreciation for the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity is consistent with a revised account of natural law and the cardinal virtues. (shrink)
Introduction -- Landscape and longing -- Art and human nature -- What is art? -- But they don't have our concept of art -- Art and natural selection -- The uses of fiction -- Art and human self-domestication -- Intention, forgery, dada : three aesthetic problems -- The contingency of aesthetic values -- Greatness in the arts.
There is a tendency in both scientific and humanistic disciplines to think of biological evolution in humans as significantly impeded if not completely overwhelmed by the robust cultural and technological capabilities of the species. The aim of this article is to make sense of and evaluate this claim. In Section 2 , I flesh out the argument that humans are ‘insulated’ from ordinary evolutionary mechanisms in terms of our contemporary biological understandings of phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, and cultural transmission. (...) In Section 3 , I consider two obvious objections to the above argument based on the growing literatures related to gene-culture coevolution and recent positive selection on the human genome, as well as a pair of less common objections relating to the connection between plasticity, population size and evolvability. In Section 4 , I argue that both the ‘human evolutionary stasis argument’ and its various detractor theories are premised on a fundamental conceptual flaw: they take evolutionary stasis for granted, since they fail to conceive of stabilizing selection as a type of evolution and drift as a universal tendency that dominates in the absence of selection. Without the continued operation of natural selection, the very properties that are purported to reduce the evolutionary response to selection in humans would themselves drift into non-functionality. I conclude that properly conceived, biological evolution is a permanent and ineradicable fixture of any species, including Homo sapiens. (shrink)
The revised edition of Paul Seabright’s The Company of Strangers is critically reviewed. Seabright aims to help non-economists participating in the cross-disciplinary study of the evolution of human sociality appreciate the potential value that can be added by economists. Though the book includes nicely constructed and vivid essays on a range of economic topics, in its main ambition it largely falls short. The most serious problem is endorsement of the so-called strong reciprocity hypothesis that has been promoted by (...) several prominent economists, but does not pass muster with biologists. (shrink)
This paper considers whether the available evidence from archeology, biological anthropology, primatology, and comparative gene-sequencing, can test evolutionary game theory models of cooperation as historical hypotheses about the actual course of human prehistory. The examination proceeds on the assumption that cooperation is the product of cultural selection and is not a genetically encoded trait. Nevertheless, we conclude that gene sequence data may yet shed signi cant light on the evolution of cooperation.
René Girard's interdisciplinary theory of human culture, its origins, and its evolution, constitutes one of the more ambitious theories available in scholarship, with manifold applications in the humanities, interdisciplinarians, the human sciences, and peace studies scholars.1 I will not rehearse that theory here but briefly recall that he has argued: that pre-cognitive imitation is a key factor driving human behavior and gives rise to numerous benefits and problems, and that early human mimetic capacity coevolved with (...) and through "the victimage mechanism"—i.e., group murder of a victim, which gave birth to the... (shrink)
We situate Henrich’s book in the larger research tradition of which it is a part and show how he presents a wide array of recent psychological, physiological, and neurological data as supporting the view that two related but distinct processes have shaped human nature and made us unique: cumulative cultural evolution and culture-driven genetic evolution. We briefly sketch out several ways philosophers might fruitfully engage with this view and note some implications it may have for current philosophic (...) debates in moral and political theory and over the nature of extended cognition. We end by noting how Henrich’s view of the source of cultural design and innovation, and the prominence of place he gives to the extended process of cultural evolution, cuts against a cluster of broad but common views about human minds, recasting putative bugs as features and indicating that many of the distinctive features of our individual minds evolved to allow them to be effective cogs in the larger, more productive cultural machine. (shrink)
The theory of evolution settled at what was thought to be its definitive form after the affiliation of Darwin’s theory with the new science of genetics. This historical event explains not only the success but also the vulnerability of evolutionary theory. The close affinity with genetics helped to provide the tools required for managing phylogenetic evolution, which was controlled by the molecular machinery of the genome, localized in most cells of each individual. This setup worked well for organizing (...) the basics of Darwinism but it faltered when applied to the evolution of culture. This is so because, as I argue in this article, under the given conditions the active support of a system of similar complexity as the genome would be required. At some point in the process of evolution the large brains of primates may have begun experimenting with phenotypic equivalents of genomic functions like memory, adaptation, fitness, processing information, and organizing replication. In this way the brain may have weakened its ties to the genome and by exploiting its new status have become, so to speak, for the phenotype what the genome is for the genotype, thus preparing the stage on which the complexity of human behavior might unfold. (shrink)
The need to produce human beings developed in all respects is today generally recognized. But one cannot say that the very notion of "comprehensive development" has been made sufficiently clear in terms of theory. The relationship between such development and education also remains unclear in many respects. Yet the success of the further evolution of our schools and of bringing education in school into accord with the needs of today, and even more of tomorrow, depends on the solution (...) of these problems. (shrink)
Chimpanzees, but very few other animals, figure prominently in attempts to reconstruct the evolution of uniquely human traits. In particular, the chimpanzee is used to identify traits unique to humans, and thus in need of reconstruction; to initialize the reconstruction, by taking its state to reflect the state of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees; as a baseline against which to test evolutionary hypotheses. Here I point out the flaws in this three-step procedure, and show how (...) they can be overcome by taking advantage of much broader phylogenetic comparisons. More specifically, I explain how such comparisons yield more reliable estimations of ancestral states and how they help to resolve problems of underdetermination inherent to chimpocentric accounts. To illustrate my points, I use a recent chimpocentric argument by Kitcher. (shrink)
__WINNER OF THE 2004 LAKATOS AWARD!__ _Thought in a Hostile World_ is an exploration of the evolution of cognition, especially human cognition, by one of today's foremost philosophers of biology and of mind. Featuresan exploration of the evolution of human cognition. Written by one of today’s foremost philosophers of mind and language. Presents a set of analytic tools for thinking about cognition and its evolution. Offers a critique of nativist, modular versions of evolutionary psychology, rejecting (...) the example of language as a model for thinking about human cognitive capacities. Applies to the areas of cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
Some understand the evolutionary process as more or less predictable; others stress its contingency. I argue that both Christian evolutionists who have assumed that the purposes of the Creator can be realized only through more or less predictable processes as well as those who infer from the contingency of the evolutionary process to the lack of purpose in the universe generally, are mistaken if the Creator escapes from the limits imposed on the creature by temporality, as the traditional Augustinian account (...) supposes. The notion of “purpose” must itself be reinterpreted in such a case. It makes no difference whether the appearance of Homo sapiens is the inevitable result of a steady process of complexification stretching over billions of years, or whether it comes about through a series of coincidences that would have made it entirely unpredictable from the (causal) human standpoint. Either way, the outcome is of God's making, and from the biblical standpoint may appear as part of God's plan. (shrink)