Several substantial analyses of cultural change have been published in recent years (Boyd and Richerson 1985; Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman 1981; Pulliam and Dunford 1980). At minimum they all share the assumption that there are important parallels between the ways in which cultures change and biological systems evolve. Indeed, both Boyd and Richerson and Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman go so far as to use formal mathematical analyses derived from population genetics as a tool for modelling cultural change. In his essay ‘The Naked Meme’ (Hull 1982), which serves as a vehicle for presenting many of David Hull’s major contributions to biology — species as historical entities, conceptual systems as historical entities, the replicator-interactor-lineage conception, and sociocultural evolution — Hull subjected this assumption of similarity between biological evolution and cultural change to some scrutiny. In the following pages we want to carry on where Hull left off. We too want to examine the assumption that there are parallels between cultural change and biological evolution and, in the process, to probe certain aspects of Hull’s own analysis.
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Heyes, C.M., Plotkin, H.C. (1989). Replicators and Interactors in Cultural Evolution. In: Ruse, M. (eds) What the Philosophy of Biology Is. Nijhoff International Philosophy Series, vol 32. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-1169-7_7
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