Can Sociobiology Adapt to Cultural Selection?

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:87 - 96 (1986)
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Sociobiologists explain human social behavior as genetically adapative. The intervention of cultural learning into the processes of the acquisition and transmission of human behavior makes such explanation prima facie unjustified. William Durham has developed a theory of coevolution which claims that although the processes of genetic evolution and cultural evolution are independent, the results of the two processes are "functionally complementary." In this paper I characterize the conditions necessary for giving an explanation by adaptation of human behavior and argue that Durham's defense of functional complementarity cannot be justified until further evidence of the causal background conditions of cultural transmission and selection are presented.



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