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Cultural group selection follows Darwin's classic syllogism for the operation of selection

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2016

Peter Richerson
Affiliation:
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. pjricherson@ucdavis.edu avhillis@ucdavis.edu lgnewson@ucdavis.edu lesleynewson@gmail.edu www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/richerson/richerson.htm http://vickenhillis.weebly.com https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lesley_Newson/
Ryan Baldini
Affiliation:
Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. ryanbaldini@gmail.com kjfrost@ucdavis.edu https://sites.google.com/site/ryanbaldini/ https://sites.google.com/site/karljosephfrost/
Adrian V. Bell
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. av.bell@gmail.com http://adrianbell.wordpress.com/
Kathryn Demps
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725. kathryndemps@boisestate.edu http://sspa.boisestate.edu/anthropology/faculty-and-staff/kathryn-demps/
Karl Frost
Affiliation:
Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. ryanbaldini@gmail.com kjfrost@ucdavis.edu https://sites.google.com/site/ryanbaldini/ https://sites.google.com/site/karljosephfrost/
Vicken Hillis
Affiliation:
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. pjricherson@ucdavis.edu avhillis@ucdavis.edu lgnewson@ucdavis.edu lesleynewson@gmail.edu www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/richerson/richerson.htm http://vickenhillis.weebly.com https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lesley_Newson/
Sarah Mathew
Affiliation:
School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287. sarah.mathew@asu.edu http://www.sarahmathew.net/Site/Home.html
Emily K. Newton
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA 94901. emily.newton@dominican.edu http://emilyknewton.weebly.com/
Nicole Naar
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. nanaar@ucdavis.edu paul.smaldino@gmail.com http://www.smaldino.com/
Lesley Newson
Affiliation:
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. pjricherson@ucdavis.edu avhillis@ucdavis.edu lgnewson@ucdavis.edu lesleynewson@gmail.edu www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/richerson/richerson.htm http://vickenhillis.weebly.com https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lesley_Newson/
Cody Ross
Affiliation:
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM 86501. ctross@ucdavis.edu http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=xSugEskAAAAJ
Paul E. Smaldino
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616. nanaar@ucdavis.edu paul.smaldino@gmail.com http://www.smaldino.com/
Timothy M. Waring
Affiliation:
School of Economics, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. timothy.waring@maine.edu http://timwaring.wordpress.com/
Matthew Zefferman
Affiliation:
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996. matt@zefferman.com http://www.zefferman.com/

Abstract

The main objective of our target article was to sketch the empirical case for the importance of selection at the level of groups on cultural variation. Such variation is massive in humans, but modest or absent in other species. Group selection processes acting on this variation is a framework for developing explanations of the unusual level of cooperation between non-relatives found in our species. Our case for cultural group selection (CGS) followed Darwin's classic syllogism regarding natural selection: If variation exists at the level of groups, if this variation is heritable, and if it plays a role in the success or failure of competing groups, then selection will operate at the level of groups. We outlined the relevant domains where such evidence can be sought and characterized the main conclusions of work in those domains. Most commentators agree that CGS plays some role in human evolution, although some were considerably more skeptical. Some contributed additional empirical cases. Some raised issues of the scope of CGS explanations versus competing ones.

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Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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