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The Case for Memes

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Matt Gers.

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Gers, M. The Case for Memes. Biol Theory 3, 305–315 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1162/biot.2008.3.4.305

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/biot.2008.3.4.305

Keywords

  • copy fidelity
  • cultural evolution
  • fitness
  • memes
  • memetic index
  • patterns
  • replicators