Understanding cultural evolution
Over the course of roughly the last two decades, a number of writers have urged an evolutionary approach to culture. This book surveys much of the relevant literature and explores what it means to take an evolutionary approach to cultural change. It distinguishes several things this might mean—all reflected in the literature. Lewens distinguishes three broad packages of ideas to which various proponents of the evolutionary approach are committed: the historical approach, the selectionist approach, and the kinetic approach. Expressions of each approach are highlighted in the writings of prominent proponents. These approaches rely on differing conceptual resources and face differing epistemic challenges. Distinguishing them allows one to then understand why these evolutionary approaches to cultural and cultural change have sometimes been treated with suspicion. Proponents of these evolutionary approaches to culture have not always clearly and decisively distinguished between these...
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