The Origin and Evolution of Cultures / Edition 1

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Oxford presents, in one convenient and coherently organized volume, 20 influential but until now relatively inaccessible articles that form the backbone of Boyd and Richerson's path-breaking work on evolution and culture. Their interdisciplinary research is based on two notions. First, that culture is crucial for understanding human behavior; unlike other organisms, socially transmitted beliefs, attitudes, and values heavily influence our behavior. Secondly, culture is part of biology: the capacity to acquire and transmit culture is a derived component of human psychology, and the contents of culture are deeply intertwined with our biology. Culture then is a pool of information, stored in the brains of the population that gets transmitted from one brain to another by social learning processes. Therefore, culture can account for both our outstanding ecological success as well as the maladaptations that characterize much of human behavior. The interest in this collection will span anthropology, psychology, economics, philosophy, and political science.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

There is much to learn from the work of Boyd and Richerson, and the initiative to bring together some of their scattered papers in this volume is laudable. Many professional anthrologists, biologists, philosophers and psychologists interested in the study of culture and the evolution of mind and behavior will benefit from it. --Metapsychology

"This book is a must-have for philosophers of psychology, philosophers of biology, philosophers of the social sciences, and, more generally, anybody who is interested in the evolution of mind and behavior." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Boyd and Richerson have long set a 'gold standard' of sensible, reasonable writing on evolutionary social science...they have patiently built solid, competent, genuinely predictive models of how humans evolved and how culture evolved as humanity's special class of behavior...they are genuine authorities on both biology and culture...the authors have produced a superb companion volume, Not by Genes Alone, which makes their work accessible to all."--CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195181456
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/20/2005
  • Series: Evolution and Cognition Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 546,398
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Davis

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Table of Contents

1 Social learning as an adaptation 19
2 Why does culture increase human adaptability? 35
3 Why culture is common, but cultural evolution is rare 52
4 Climate, culture, and the evolution of cognition 66
5 Norms and bounded rationality 83
6 The evolution of ethnic markers 103
7 Shared norms and the evolution of ethnic markers 118
8 The evolution of reciprocity in sizable groups 145
9 Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups 166
10 Why people punish defectors : weak conformist transmission can stabilixe costly enforcement of norms in cooperative dilemmas 189
12 Group-beneficial norms can spread rapidly in a structured population 227
13 The evolution of altruistic punishment 241
14 Cultural evolution of human cooperation 251
15 How microevolutionary proceses give rise to history 287
16 Are cultural phylogenies possible? 310
17 Was agriculture impossible during the Pleistocene but mandatory during the Holocene? : a climate change hypothesis 337
18 Rationality, imitation, and tradition 379
19 Simple models of complex phenomena : the case of cultural evolution 397
20 Memes : universal acid or a better mousetrap? 420
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