Sean Allen-Hermanson
Florida International University
Is cultural evolution needed to explain altruistic selfsacrifice? Some contend that cultural traits (e.g. beliefs, behaviors, and for some “memes”) replicate according to selection processes that have “floated free” from biology. One test case is the example of suicide kamikaze attacks in wartime Japan. Standard biological mechanisms—such as reciprocal altruism and kin selection—might not seem to apply here: The suicide pilots did not act on the expectation that others would reciprocate, and they were supposedly sacrificing themselves for country and emperor, not close relatives. Yet an examination of both the historical record and the demands of evolutionary theory suggest the kamikaze phenomenon does not cry out for explanation in terms of a special non-biological selection process. This weakens the case for cultural evolution, and has interesting implications for our understanding of altruistic self-sacrifice.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2016.12.001
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References found in this work BETA

An Objection to the Memetic Approach to Culture.Dan Sperber - 2001 - In Robert Aunger (ed.), Darwinizing Culture. pp. 162–73.
The Evolution of Culture.Daniel C. Dennett - 2001 - The Monist 84 (3):305-324.
The Evolution of Human Warfare.George R. Pitman - 2011 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (3):352-379.

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