Biological Theory

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 305–315 | Cite as

The Case for Memes

  • Matt GersEmail author


The significant theoretical objections that have been raised against memetics have not received adequate defense, even though there is ongoing empirical research in this field. In this paper I identify the key objections to memetics as a viable explanatory tool in studies of cultural evolution. I attempt to defuse these objections by arguing that they fail to show the absence of replication, high-fidelity copying, or lineages in the cultural domain. I further respond to meme critics by arguing that, despite competing explanations of cultural evolution, memetics has unique explanatory power. This is largely founded upon the increasing likelihood of formulating a workable fitness measure for memes, a memetic index. I conclude that memes must be integrated with psychological bias and population-dynamic approaches to cultural evolution.


copy fidelity cultural evolution fitness memes memetic index patterns replicators 


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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVictoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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