Recent Critiques of Dual Inheritance Theory
The dual inheritance or gene–culture coevolution theory of human evolution was developed in the 1970s and 80s. Early work built mathematical theories derived from then-current work in human development, sociolinguistics, and the diffusion of innovations. More recently it has included a considerable amount of new empirical work. The theory has always had critics in evolutionary biology and the social and behavioral sciences. Morin’s book critiques the theory from an alternate epidemiological or attraction theory of cultural evolution that doubts that imitation and adaptation play significant roles in cultural evolution. Lewens’s book is a wide-ranging analysis of critiques of gene–culture coevolution theory that finds most of them in error or at least not fatal to the project. His book includes a chapter on critiques based on considerations of human nature, of which Morin’s book is one variant, and which Lewens argues are faulty. That is also my conclusion.
Keywords: cultural evolution, dual inheritance theory, attraction theory, human nature
Books under review:
Lewens, Tim. 2015. Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges. New York: Oxford University Press. Hardcover $45.00; Kindle $17.04.
Morin, Olivier. 2016. How Traditions Live and Die. New York: Oxford University Press. Hardcover $99.00; paperback $39.95; Kindle $15.65.
Atkinson, Quentin D., Russell D. Gray, and Alexei J. Drummond. 2008. “mtDNA Variation Predicts Population Size in Humans and Reveals a Major Southern Asian Chapter in Human Prehistory.” Molecular Biology and Evolution 25 (2): 468–74.
Boyd, Robert, and Peter J. Richerson. 1985. Culture and the Evolutionary Process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Boyd, Robert, Peter J. Richerson, and Joe Henrich. 2011. “The Cultural Niche.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108 (Supplement 2): 10918–25.
Brown, Gillian R., and Peter J. Richerson. 2014. “Applying Evolutionary Theory to Human Behaviour: Past Differences and Current Debates.” Journal of Bioeconomics 16 (2): 105–28. doi:10.1007/s10818-013-9166-4.
Carey, Susan. 2009. The Origin of Concepts. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chudek, Maciej, and Joseph Henrich. 2011. “Culture–Gene Coevolution, Norm-Psychology and the Emergence of Human Prosociality.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (5): 218–26. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2011.03.003.
Dean, L. G., R. L. Kendal, S. J. Schapiro, B. Thierry, and K. N. Laland. 2012. “Identification of the Social and Cognitive Processes Underlying Human Cumulative Culture.” Science 335 (6072): 1114–18. doi:10.1126/science.1213969.
Harris, Paul L. 2012. Trusting What You’re Told: How Children Learn from Others. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Henrich, Joseph. 2016. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Henrich, Joseph, Robert Boyd, and Peter J. Richerson. 2012. “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367 (1589): 657–69. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0290.
Jacobs, Zenobia, Richard G. Roberts, Rex F. Galbraith, Hilary J. Deacon, Rainer Grün, Alex Mackay, Peter Mitchell, Ralf Vogelsang, and Lyn Wadley. 2008. “Ages for the Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa: Implications for Human Behavior and Dispersal.” Science 322:733–35.
Kline, Michelle A., and Robert Boyd. 2010. “Population Size Predicts Technological Complexity in Oceania.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277:2559–64. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0452.
Lavery, Brian. 2004. Ship: The Epic Story of Maritime Adventure. New York: DK Adult.
Lewens, Tim. 2012. “Human Nature: The Very Idea.” Philosophy & Technology 25 (4): 459–74. doi:10.1007/s13347-012-0063-x.
Li, Heng, and Richard Durbin. 2011. “Inference of Human Population History from Individual Whole-Genome Sequences.” Nature 475 (7357):493–96. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7357/abs/nature10231.html#supplementary-information.
Panksepp, Jaak, and Lucy Biven. 2012. The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions. New York: W. W. Norton.
Richerson, Peter J. 2016. Review of Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges, by Tim Lewens. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 38:15. doi:10.1007/s40656-016-0116-z.
———. Forthcoming. “The Use and Non-Use of the Human Nature Concept by Evolutionary Biologists.” In Why We Disagree about Human Nature, edited by Elizabeth Hanlon and Tim Lewens. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richerson, Peter, Ryan Baldini, Adrian Bell, Kathryn Demps, Karl Frost, Vicken Hillis, Sarah Mathew, Emily Newton, Nicole Narr, Lesley Newson, Cody Ross, Paul
Smaldino, Timothy Waring, and Matthew Zefferman. 2016. “Cultural Group Selection Plays an Essential Role in Explaining Human Cooperation: A Sketch of the Evidence, Together with Commentaries and Authors’ Response.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39 (e 30): 1–68. doi:10.1017/S0140525X1400106X.
Richerson, Peter J., and Robert Boyd. 2013. “Rethinking Paleoanthropology: A World Queerer Than We Supposed.” In Evolution of Mind, Brain, and Culture, edited by Gary Hatfield and Holly Pittman, 263–302. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Sperber, Dan. 1996. Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell.
Sterelny, Kim. 2012. The Evolved Apprentice: How Evolution Made Humans Unique. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Steward, Julian H., and Louis C. Faron. 1959. Native Peoples of South America. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Tooby, John. 2015. “Learning and Culture.” In This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, edited by John Brockman, 432–36. New York: Harper.
Tooby, John, and Leda Cosmides. 1992. “The Psychological Foundations of Culture.” In The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, edited by Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, 19–136. New York: Oxford University Press.
Turchin, Peter. 2016. Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History. Chaplin, CT: Berseta.
Walker, Robert S., Søren Wichmann, Thomas Mailund, and Curtis J. Atkisson. 2012. “Cultural Phylogenetics of the Tupi Language Family in Lowland South America.” PLOS ONE 7 (4): e35025. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035025.
Whiten, Andrew, Nicola McGuigan, Sarah Marshall-Pescini, and Lydia M. Hopper. 2009. “Emulation, Imitation, Over-Imitation and the Scope of Culture for Child and Chimpanzee.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364:2417–28.
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