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Can culture evolve?




Cultural evolution, Darwinian populations, Cultural selection, Cultural populations, Dual inheritance theory, Memetics, Evolutionary Psychology


(This article is part of a project by Trans/Form/Ação: Unesp Philosophy Journal. It is the Authorial Philosophy Dossier, to be published in 2022.) The paper starts with a distinction between kinds of description that can be proposed for a populational dynamics, including a ‘darwinian’ description, in terms of variation, inheritance and differential fitness, engaging the entities that make up the relevant population. It follows a categorization of different kinds of cultural populations and an investigation of the most general conditions that have to be fulfilled for an evolutionary and Darwinian dynamics to take place in those populations, especially in the population comprising the cultural traits themselves. We make salient some approaches to the evolution in the human lineage, such as dual inheritance theory and memetics, that place cultural evolution at the center of their scenarios. Those approaches contribute, in that way, to the development of a general theory of cultural evolution, and we compare them, on this respect, with other approaches, such as evolutionary psychology. Those confrontations grant also illustrations of the analogies between biological evolution and cultural evolution, as well as failures in the analogy.


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How to Cite

Abrantes, P. C. (2021). Can culture evolve?. In SciELO Preprints.


Human Sciences