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Cultural Inheritance in Generalized Darwinism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Generalized Darwinism models cultural development as an evolutionary process, where traits evolve through variation, selection, and inheritance. Inheritance describes either a discrete unit’s transmission or a mixing of traits (i.e., blending inheritance). In this article, we compare classical models of cultural evolution and generalized population dynamics with respect to blending inheritance. We identify problems of these models and introduce our model, which combines relevant features of both. Blending is implemented as success-based social learning, which can be shown to be an optimal strategy.

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Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

For the valuable feedback and constructive criticism on earlier drafts of this article, we would like to thank Pete Richerson, Charles Beasley, Marieke Williams, and Sarah Uhrig; the audiences in Copenhagen (Nordic Network for Philosophy of Science 2017), Düsseldorf (Generalized Darwinism 2018), and Leuven (Human Success 2019); and particularly two anonymous reviewers of this journal.

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