Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 493–512

Is cultural evolution Lamarckian?

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10539-006-9037-7

Cite this article as:
Kronfeldner, M.E. Biol Philos (2007) 22: 493. doi:10.1007/s10539-006-9037-7


The article addresses the question whether culture evolves in a Lamarckian manner. I highlight three central aspects of a Lamarckian concept of evolution: the inheritance of acquired characteristics, the transformational pattern of evolution, and the concept of directed changes. A clear exposition of these aspects shows that a system can be a Darwinian variational system instead of a Lamarckian transformational one, even if it is based on inheritance of acquired characteristics and/or on Lamarckian directed changes. On this basis, I apply the three aspects to culture. Taking for granted that culture is a variational system, based on selection processes, I discuss in detail the senses in which cultural inheritance can be said to be Lamarckian and in which sense problem solving, a major factor in cultural change, leads to directed variation.


Cultural evolution Inheritance of acquired characteristics Lamarckism Memes Problem solving Transformational evolution directed variation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations