Taking the Historical-Social Dimension Seriously: A Reply to Bandini et al.: E. Bandini, J. S. Reeves, W. D. Snyder, C. Tennie: Clarifying Misconceptions of the Zone of Latent Solutions Hypothesis: A Response to Haidle and Schlaudt

Biological Theory 16 (2):83-89 (2021)
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In our recent article, "Where Does Cumulative Culture Begin? A Plea for a Sociologically Informed Perspective" we commented on a fundamental notion in current approaches to cultural evolution, the “zones of latent solutions”, and proposed a modification of it, namely a social and dynamic interpretation of the latent solutions which were originally introduced within an individualistic framework and as static, genetically fixed entities. This modification seemed, and still seems, relevant to us and, in particular, more adequate for coping with the archaeological record. Bandini et al. rejected our proposition and deemed it unnecessary. In their critique, they focused on: our reservations about an individualistic approach; our objections to the presumption of fully naive individuals; and our demand for an extended consideration of forms of social learning simpler than emulation and imitation. We will briefly reply to their critique in order to clarify some misunderstandings. However, the criticisms also show that we are at an impasse on certain crucial topics, such as the meaning of ZLS and the scope and nature of culture in general. Thus, we consider it necessary to make an additional effort to identify the conceptual roots which are at the very basis of the dissent with Bandini et al.



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Oliver Schlaudt
University of Heidelberg

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