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  1.  25
    Understanding Cultural Fidelity.Mathieu Charbonneau - unknown - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1209-1233.
    A leading idea of cultural evolutionary theory is that for human cultures to undergo evolutionary change, cultural transmission must generally serve as a high-fidelity copying process. In a...
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  2.  6
    Fidelity and the Grain Problem in Cultural Evolution.Mathieu Charbonneau & Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5815-5836.
    High-fidelity cultural transmission, rather than brute intelligence, is the secret of our species’ success, or so many cultural evolutionists claim. It has been selected because it ensures the spread, stability and longevity of beneficial cultural traditions, and it supports cumulative cultural change. To play these roles, however, fidelity must be a causally-efficient property of cultural transmission. This is where the grain problem comes in and challenges the explanatory potency of fidelity. Assessing the degree of fidelity of any episode or mechanism (...)
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  3.  19
    Populations Without Reproduction.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):727-740.
    For a population to undergo evolution by natural selection, it is assumed that the constituents of the population form parent-offspring lineages, that is, that they must reproduce. I challenge this assumption by dividing the notion of reproduction into two subprocesses, that is, multiplication and inheritance, that produce parent-offspring lineages between the parts of a population, and I show that their population-level roles, generation and memory, respectively, can be effected by processes that do not rely on such local-level lineages. I further (...)
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  4.  18
    Mapping Complex Social Transmission: Technical Constraints on the Evolution of Cultures.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):527-546.
    Social transmission is at the core of cultural evolutionary theory. It occurs when a demonstrator uses mental representations to produce some public displays which in turn allow a learner to acquire similar mental representations. Although cultural evolutionists do not dispute this view of social transmission, they typically abstract away from the multistep nature of the process when they speak of cultural variants at large, thereby referring both to variation and evolutionary change in mental representations as well as in their corresponding (...)
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  5.  3
    Grains of Description in Biological and Cultural Transmission.Pierrick Bourrat & Mathieu Charbonneau - 2022 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 22 (3-4):185-202.
    The question of whether cultural transmission is faithful has attracted significant debate over the last 30 years. The degree of fidelity with which an object is transmitted depends on 1) the features chosen to be relevant, and 2) the quantity of details given about those features. Once these choices have been made, an object is described at a particular grain. In the absence of conventions between different researchers and across different fields about which grain to use, transmission fidelity cannot be (...)
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  6.  9
    All Innovations Are Equal, but Some More Than Others: (Re)Integrating Modification Processes to the Origins of Cumulative Culture.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (4):322-335.
    The cumulative open-endedness of human cultures represents a major break with the social traditions of nonhuman species. As traditions are altered and the modifications retained along the cultural lineage, human populations are capable of producing complex traits that no individual could have figured out on its own. For cultures to produce increasingly complex traditions, improvements and modifications must be kept for the next generations to build upon. High-fidelity transmission would thus act as a ratchet, retaining modifications and allowing the historical (...)
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  7.  22
    The Cognitive Life of Mechanical Molecular Models.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4a):585-594.
    The use of physical models of molecular structures as research tools has been central to the development of biochemistry and molecular biology. Intriguingly, it has received little attention from scholars of science. In this paper, I argue that these physical models are not mere three-dimensional representations but that they are in fact very special research tools: they are cognitive augmentations. Despite the fact that they are external props, these models serve as cognitive tools that augment and extend the modeler’s cognitive (...)
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  8.  15
    Modularity and Recombination in Technological Evolution.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (4):373-392.
    Cultural evolutionists typically emphasize the informational aspect of social transmission, that of the learning, stabilizing, and transformation of mental representations along cultural lineages. Social transmission also depends on the production of public displays such as utterances, behaviors, and artifacts, as these displays are what social learners learn from. However, the generative processes involved in the production of public displays are usually abstracted away in both theoretical assessments and formal models. The aim of this paper is to complement the informational view (...)
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  9. Integration and the Disunity of the Social Sciences.Christophe Heintz, Mathieu Charbonneau & Jay Fogelman - 2019 - In Attilia Ruzzene Michiru Nagatsu (ed.), Contemporary Philosophy and Social Science: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue. pp. 11-28.
    There is a plurality of theoretical approaches, methodological tools, and explanatory strategies in the social sciences. Different fields rely on different methods and explanatory tools even when they study the very same phenomena. We illustrate this plurality of the social sciences with the studies of crowds. We show how three different takes on crowd phenomena—psychology, rational choice theory, and network theory—can complement one another. We conclude that social scientists are better described as researchers endowed with explanatory toolkits than specialists of (...)
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  10.  29
    Extended Thing Knowledge.Mathieu Charbonneau - 2010 - Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):116-128.
    This paper aims at extending the notion of thing knowledge put forth by Davis Baird. His Thing Knowledge (Baird 2004) proposes that scientific instruments constitute scientific knowledge and that to conceive scientific instruments as such brings about a new and better understanding of scientific development. By insisting on what “truth does for us,” Baird shows that the functional properties of truth are shared by the common scientific instrument. The traditional definition of knowledge as justified true belief would only apply to (...)
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  11.  8
    Alan C. Love & William C. Wimsatt (Eds.), Beyond the Meme: Development and Structure in Cultural Evolution, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 22, Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, 2019, Xxxii + 510 Pp. [REVIEW]Mathieu Charbonneau - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (4):1-4.
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  12.  13
    Linnda R. Caporael, James R. Griesemer, and William C. Wimsatt : Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014, Xiv + 426 Pp., $60.00. [REVIEW]Mathieu Charbonneau - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (2):228-230.
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