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An evolutionary developmental approach to cultural evolution

Abstract

Evolutionary developmental theories in biology see the processes and organization of organisms as crucial for understanding the dynamic behavior of organic evolution. Darwinian forces are seen as necessary but not sucient for explaining observed evolutionary patterns. We here propose that the same arguments apply with even greater force to culture vis-a-vis cultural evolution. In order not to argue entirely in the abstract, we demonstrate the proposed approach by combining a set of di erent models into a provisional synthetic theory, and by applying this theory to a number of short case studies. What emerges is a set of concepts and models that allow us to consider entirely new types of explanations for the evolution of cultures. For example we see how feedback relations -both within societies and between societies and their ecological environment- have the power to shape evolutionary history in profound ways. The ambition here is not to produce a de nite statement on what such a theory should look like but rather to propose a starting point along with an argumentation and demonstration of its potential.

Authors:  Claes Andersson, Anton Törnberg, Petter Törnberg

DOWNLOAD PAPER Preprint submitted to Current Anthropology – Accepted for Publication