Advertisement

Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 435–446 | Cite as

Cultural longevity: Morin on cultural lineages

  • Andrew BuskellEmail author
Review Essay

Abstract

Morin has written a rich and valuable book. Its main aim is to isolate the factors involved in maintaining behavioural lineages over time, and to understand how these factors might interact. In doing so, it takes issue with the abstract and idealised models and arguments of dual-inheritance theorists, which are alleged in this account to rely on an overly simplistic notion of imitative learning. Morin’s book is full of ethnographic, anthropological, and psychological research, and there is much to commend in it. However, Morin’s arguments against the dual-inheritance theorists are less convincing when put under scrutiny, and his positive picture which includes appeals to ostensive communication, intrinsic appeal and cultural attraction has some difficulties. I argue that when we contrast dual-inheritance theorists and Morin, we find that there may be fewer differences and greater commonalities than Morin’s book might suggest.

Keywords

Cultural evolution Imitation Niche construction Dual-inheritance 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I sincerely thank Helen Curry, Richard Moore, and Alberto Acerbi for their comments on previous versions of this piece. Further, special thanks go to Olivier Morin for many clarificatory and engaging discussions.

References

  1. Acerbi A, Mesoudi A (2015) If we are all cultural Darwinians what’s the fuss about? Clarifying recent disagreements in the field of cultural evolution. Biol Philos. doi: 10.1007/s10539-015-9490-2 Google Scholar
  2. Boyd R, Richerson PJ (1985) Culture and the evolutionary process. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd R, Richerson PJ (2005) The origin and evolution of cultures. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Caldwell CA, Millen AE (2008) Studying cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 363(1509):3529–3539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cavalli-Sforza LL, Feldman MW (1981) Cultural transmission and evolution. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark A (1998) Being there: putting brain, body and world together again. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Eriksson K, Coultas JC (2012) The advantage of multiple cultural parents in the cultural transmission of stories. Evol Hum Behav 33(4):251–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eriksson K, Coultas JC (2014) Corpses, maggots, poodles and rats: emotional selection operating in three phases of cultural transmission of urban legends. J Cogn Cult 14:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Godfrey-Smith P (2012) Darwinism and cultural change. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367(1599):2160–2170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Henrich J (2001) Cultural transmission and the diffusion of innovations: adoption dynamics indicate that biased cultural transmission is the predominate force in behavioral change. Am Anthropol 103(4):992–1013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Henrich J (2004) Demography and cultural evolution: how adaptive cultural processes can produce maladaptive losses: the Tasmanian case. Am Antiq 69(2):197–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Henrich J, Boyd R (1998) The evolution of conformist transmission and the emergence of between-group differences. Evol Hum Behav 19:215–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Henrich J, Boyd R (2002) On modeling cognition and culture. J Cogn Cult 2(2):87–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henrich J, Gil-White FJ (2001) The evolution of prestige: freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evol Hum Behav 22:165–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henrich N, Henrich J (2007) Why humans cooperate. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Heyes C (2000) Evolutionary psychology in the round. In: Heyes C, Huber L (eds) The evolution of cognition. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 3–22Google Scholar
  17. Heyes C (2012a) Grist and mills: on the cultural origins of cultural learning. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367(1599):2181–2191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heyes C (2012b) New thinking: the evolution of human cognition. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367(1599):2091–2096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laland KN, Sterelny K (2006) Seven reasons (not) to neglect niche construction. Evolution 60(9):1751–1762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laland KN, Odling-Smee J, Feldman MW (2000) Niche construction, biological evolution, and cultural change. Behav Brain Sci 23:131–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Odling-Smee FJ, Laland KN, Feldman MW (1996) Niche construction. Am Nat 147(4):641–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Odling-Smee FJ, Laland KN, Feldman MW (2003) Niche construction: the neglected process in evolution. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  23. Richerson PJ, Boyd R (2000) Built for speed: pleistocene climate variation and the origins of human culture. In: Tonneau F, Thompson NS (eds) Perspectives in Ethology, vol 13. Springer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Richerson PJ, Boyd R (2005) Not by genes alone: how culture transformed human evolution. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  25. Rozin P, Haidt J, McCauley CR (2000) Disgust. In: Lewis M, Haviland-Jones JM (eds) Handbook of emotions, 2nd edn. Guildford Press, New York, pp 637–653Google Scholar
  26. Scott-Phillips T (2015) Speaking our minds. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Sperber D (1996) Explaining culture. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Sperber D, Wilson D (1995) Relevance: communication and cognition, 2nd edn. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  29. Sterelny K (2004) Externalism, epistemic artefacts and the extended mind. In: Schantz R (ed) The externalist challenge. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp 239–254Google Scholar
  30. Sterelny K (2006) Memes revisited. Br J Philos Sci 57(1):145–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sterelny K (2009) Peacekeeping in the culture wars. In: Laland KN, Galef BG (eds) The question of animal culture. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 288–304Google Scholar
  32. Sterelny K (2010) Minds: extended or scaffolded? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9(4):465–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sterelny K (2012a) The evolved apprentice. MIT Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sterelny K (2012b) Language, gesture, skill: the co-evolutionary foundations of language. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367(1599):2141–2151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tomasello M (1999) The cultural origins of human cognition. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific MethodLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations