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A prolegomenon to nonlinear empiricism in the human behavioral sciences

Abstract

We propose a general framework for integrating theory and empiricism in human evolutionary ecology. We specifically emphasize the joint use of stochastic nonlinear dynamics and information theory. To illustrate critical ideas associated with historical contingency and complex dynamics, we review recent research on social preferences and social learning from behavioral economics. We additionally examine recent work on ecological approaches in history, the modeling of chaotic populations, and statistical application of information theory.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following individuals for comments on an earlier draft of this paper: Kim Sterelny, Brian Paciotti, William Baum, Ed Edsten, Mark Lubell, Richard McElreath, and Tim Waring.

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Correspondence to Charles Efferson.

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Efferson, C., Richerson, P.J. A prolegomenon to nonlinear empiricism in the human behavioral sciences. Biol Philos 22, 1–33 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-005-9013-7

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Keywords

  • Cultural evolution
  • Human evolutionary ecology
  • Nonlinear dynamics