Many of the most important properties of human groups – including properties that may give one group an evolutionary advantage over another – are properly defined only at the level of group organization. Yet at present, most work on the evolution of culture has focused solely on the transmission of individual-level traits. I propose a conceptual extension of the theory of cultural evolution, particularly related to the evolutionary competition between cultural groups. The key concept in this extension is the emergent (...) group-level trait. This type of trait is characterized by the structured organization of differentiated individuals and constitutes a unit of selection that is qualitatively different from selection on groups as defined by traditional multilevel selection theory. As a corollary, I argue that the traditional focus on cooperation as the defining feature of human societies has missed an essential feature of cooperative groups. Traditional models of cooperation assume that interacting with one cooperator is equivalent to interacting with any other. However, human groups involve differential roles, meaning that receiving aid from one individual is often preferred to receiving aid from another. In this target article, I discuss the emergence and evolution of group-level traits and the implications for the theory of cultural evolution, including ramifications for the evolution of human cooperation, technology, and cultural institutions, and for the equivalency of multilevel selection and inclusive fitness approaches. (shrink)
Heyes’ book is an important contribution that rightly integrates cognitive development and cultural evolution. However, understanding the cultural evolution of cognitive gadgets requires a deeper appreciation of complexity, feedback, and self-organization than her book exhibits.
We extend Smaldino’s approach to collaboration and social organization in cultural evolution to include cognition. By showing how recent work on emergent group-level cognition can be incorporated within Smaldino’s framework, we extend that framework’s scope to encompass collaborative memory, decision-making, and intelligent action. We argue that beneficial effects arise only in certain forms of cognitive interdependence, in surprisingly fragile conditions.
Because of the complexity of human emotional responses, invariants must be sought not in the responses themselves, but in their generating mechanisms. Lindquist et al. show that functional locationism is a theoretical dead end; their proposed mechanistic framework is a first step toward better models of emotional behavior. We caution, however, that emotions may still be quasi-natural perceptual types.
We agree that evolutionary perspectives may help us organize many divergent realms of the science of human behavior. Nevertheless, an imperative to unite all social science under an evolutionary framework risks turning off researchers who have their own theoretical perspectives that can be informed by evolutionary theory without being exclusively defined by it. We propose a few considerations for scholars interested in joining the evolutionary and social sciences.
Human cooperation is highly unusual. We live in large groups composed mostly of non-relatives. Evolutionists have proposed a number of explanations for this pattern, including cultural group selection and extensions of more general processes such as reciprocity, kin selection, and multi-level selection acting on genes. Evolutionary processes are consilient; they affect several different empirical domains, such as patterns of behavior and the proximal drivers of that behavior. In this target article, we sketch the evidence from five domains that bear on (...) the explanatory adequacy of cultural group selection and competing hypotheses to explain human cooperation. Does cultural transmission constitute an inheritance system that can evolve in a Darwinian fashion? Are the norms that underpin institutions among the cultural traits so transmitted? Do we observe sufficient variation at the level of groups of considerable size for group selection to be a plausible process? Do human groups compete, and do success and failure in competition depend upon cultural variation? Do we observe adaptations for cooperation in humans that most plausibly arose by cultural group selection? If the answer to one of these questions is “no,” then we must look to other hypotheses. We present evidence, including quantitative evidence, that the answer to all of the questions is “yes” and argue that we must take the cultural group selection hypothesis seriously. If culturally transmitted systems of rules that limit individual deviance organize cooperation in human societies, then it is not clear that any extant alternative to cultural group selection can be a complete explanation. (shrink)
We support the goal to integrate models of culture and cognition. However, we are not convinced that the free energy principle and Thinking Through Other Minds will be useful in achieving it. There are long traditions of modeling both cultural evolution and cognition. Demonstrating that FEP or TTOM can integrate these models will require a bit more math.
The generalizability crisis is compounded, or even partially caused, by a lack of specificity in psychological theories. Expanding the use of mechanistic models among psychologists is therefore important, but faces numerous hurdles. A cultural evolutionary approach can help guide and evaluate interventions to improve modeling efforts in psychology, such as developing standards and implementing them at the institutional level.
We suggest that the accounts offered by the target articles could be strengthened by acknowledging the role of group selection and cultural niche construction in shaping the evolutionary trajectory of human music. We argue that group level traits and highly variable cultural niches can explain the diversity of human song, but the target articles' accounts are insufficient to explain such diversity.
The etiological approach to ‘proper functions’ in biology can be strengthened by relating it to Robert Cummins' general treatment of function ascription. The proper functions of a biological trait are the functions it is assigned in a Cummins-style functional explanation of the fitness of ancestors. These functions figure in selective explanations of the trait. It is also argued that some recent etiological theories include inaccurate accounts of selective explanation in biology. Finally, a generalization of the notion of selective explanation allows (...) an analysis of the proper functions of human artifacts. (shrink)
Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is (...) illustrated by showing how life-history theory clarifies the status of so-called diseases of old age. The selected effect account of function deserves a more prominent place in the philosophy of medicine than it currently occupies. _1_ Introduction _2_ Biostatistical and Selected Effect Accounts of Function _3_ Objections to the Selected Effect Account _3.1_ Boorse _3.2_ Kingma _3.3_ Hausman _3.4_ Murphy and Woolfolk _4_ Problems for the Biostatistical Account _4.1_ Schwartz _5_ Analysis versus Explication _6_ Explicating Dysfunction: Life History Theory and Senescence _7_ Conclusion. (shrink)
In behavioral ecology some authors regard the innateness concept as irretrievably confused whilst others take it to refer to adaptations. In cognitive psychology, however, whether traits are 'innate' is regarded as a significant question and is often the subject of heated debate. Several philosophers have tried to define innateness with the intention of making sense of its use in cognitive psychology. In contrast, I argue that the concept is irretrievably confused. The vernacular innateness concept represents a key aspect of 'folkbiology', (...) namely, the explanatory strategy that psychologists and cognitive anthropologists have labeled 'folk essentialism'. Folk essentialism is inimical to Darwinism, and both Darwin and the founders of the modern synthesis struggled to overcome this way of thinking about living systems. Because the vernacular concept of innateness is part of folkbiology, attempts to define it more adequately are unlikely to succeed, making it preferable to introduce new, neutral terms for the various, related notions that are needed to understand cognitive development. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that causes differ in the degree to which they are ‘specific’ to their effects. Woodward has used this idea to enrich his influential interventionist theory of causal explanation. Here we propose a way to measure causal specificity using tools from information theory. We show that the specificity of a causal variable is not well-defined without a probability distribution over the states of that variable. We demonstrate the tractability and interest of our proposed measure by measuring the (...) specificity of coding DNA and other factors in a simple model of the production of mRNA. (shrink)
We outline three very different concepts of the gene—instrumental, nominal, and postgenomic. The instrumental gene has a critical role in the construction and interpretation of experiments in which the relationship between genotype and phenotype is explored via hybridization between organisms or directly between nucleic acid molecules. It also plays an important theoretical role in the foundations of disciplines such as quantitative genetics and population genetics. The nominal gene is a critical practical tool, allowing stable communication between bioscientists in a wide (...) range of fields grounded in well-defined sequences of nucleotides, but this concept does not embody major theoretical insights into genome structure or function. The post-genomic gene embodies the continuing project of understanding how genome structure supports genome function, but with a deflationary picture of the gene as a structural unit. This final concept of the gene poses a significant challenge to conventional assumptions about the relationship between genome structure and function, and between genotype and phenotype. (shrink)
Because physical theories typically predict numerical values, an improvement in experimental precision reduces the tolerance range and hence increases corroborability. In most psychological research, improved power of a statistical design leads to a prior probability approaching 1/2 of finding a significant difference in the theoretically predicted direction. Hence the corroboration yielded by "success" is very weak, and becomes weaker with increased precision. "Statistical significance" plays a logical role in psychology precisely the reverse of its role in physics. This problem is (...) worsened by certain unhealthy tendencies prevalent among psychologists, such as a premium placed on experimental "cuteness" and a free reliance upon ad hoc explanations to avoid refutation. (shrink)
In earlier work I have claimed that emotion and some emotions are not `natural kinds'. Here I clarify what I mean by `natural kind', suggest a new and more accurate term, and discuss the objection that emotion and emotions are not descriptive categories at all, but fundamentally normative categories.
I defend the view that many biological categories are defined by homology against a series of arguments designed to show that all biological categories are defined, at least in part, by selected function. I show that categories of homology are `abnormality inclusive'—something often alleged to be unique to selected function categories. I show that classifications by selected function are logically dependent on classifications by homology, but not vice-versa. Finally, I reject the view that biologists must use considerations of selected function (...) to abstract away from variation and pathology to form a canonical description of a class of biological systems. (shrink)
Kenneth C. Schaffner's paper is an important contribution to the literature on behavioral genetics and on genetics in general. Schaffner has a long record of injecting real molecular biology into philosophical discussions of genetics. His treatments of the reduction of Mendelian to molecular genetics first drew philosophical attention to the problems of detail that have fuelled both anti-reductionism and more sophisticated models of theory reduction. An injection of molecular detail into discussions of genetics is particularly necessary at the present time, (...) when so many philosophers seem happy to discuss the philosophical and ethical implications of molecular biology using gene concepts derived from evolutionary biology ). Schaffner has long advocated the view that the philosophy of biology should be more than the philosophy of evolution. This paper shows how radically a picture of gene action derived from molecular biology undercuts the popular picture associated with a more evolutionary view of genes as units of heredity or as ‘difference-makers’ mediated by the ‘black box’ of development. (shrink)
Ever since Darwin people have worried about the sceptical implications of evolution. If our minds are products of evolution like those of other animals, why suppose that the beliefs they produce are true, rather than merely useful? In this chapter we apply this argument to beliefs in three different domains: morality, religion, and science. We identify replies to evolutionary scepticism that work in some domains but not in others. The simplest reply to evolutionary scepticism is that the truth of beliefs (...) in a certain domain is, in fact, connected to evolutionary success, so that evolution can be expected to design systems that produce true beliefs in that domain. We call a connection between truth and evolutionary success a ‘Milvian bridge’, after the tradition which ascribes the triumph of Christianity at the battle of the Milvian bridge to the truth of Christianity. We argue that a Milvian bridge can be constructed for commonsense beliefs, and extended to scientific beliefs, but not to moral and religious beliefs. An alternative reply to evolutionary scepticism, which has been used defend moral beliefs, is to argue that their truth does not depend on their tracking some external state of affairs. We ask if this reply could be used to defend religious beliefs. (shrink)
It is unreasonable to assume that our pre-scientific emotion vocabulary embodies all and only those distinctions required for a scientific psychology of emotion. The psychoevolutionary approach to emotion yields an alternative classification of certain emotion phenomena. The new categories are based on a set of evolved adaptive responses, or affect-programs, which are found in all cultures. The triggering of these responses involves a modular system of stimulus appraisal, whose evoluations may conflict with those of higher-level cognitive processes. Whilst the structure (...) of the adaptive responses is innate, the contents of the system which triggers them are largely learnt. The circuits subserving the adaptive responses are probably located in the limbic system. This theory of emotion is directly applicable only to a small sub-domain of the traditional realm of emotion. It can be used, however, to explain the grouping of various other phenomena under the heading of emotion, and to explain various characteristic failings of the pre-scientific conception of emotion. (shrink)
A number of philosophers and ‘evolutionary psychologists’ have argued that attacks on adaptationism in contemporary biology are misguided. These thinkers identify anti-adaptationism with advocacy of non-adaptive modes of explanation. They overlook the influence of anti-adaptationism in the development of more rigorous forms of adaptive explanation. Many biologists who reject adaptationism do not reject Darwinism. Instead, they have pioneered the contemporary historical turn in the study of adaptation. One real issue which remains unresolved amongst these methodological advances is the nature of (...) ‘phylogenetic inertia’. To what extent is an adaptive explanation needed for the persistence of a trait as well as its origin? (shrink)
Human experts are the source of knowledge required to develop computer systems that perform at an expert level. Human beings are not, however, able to reliably express what they know. As a result, experts often develop non-authentic accounts of their own expertise. These accounts, here termed reconstructed methods of reasoning, lead to computer systems that perform at a high level of proficiency but have the disadvantage that they often do not reflect the heuristics and processing constraints of a system user. (...) Reconstructed methods of reasoning are compared with authentic methods derived from the study of expert human behavior. Tests are proposed to establish the authenticity of reasoning methods and examples from medical diagnosis are used to illustrate how authentic methods of reasoning can be incorporated into an expert computer system. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
According to the distinguished philosopher Richard Wollheim, an emotion is an extended mental episode that originates when events in the world frustrate or satisfy a pre-existing desire. This leads the subject to form an attitude to the world which colours their future experience, leading them to attend to one aspect of things rather than another, and to view the things they attend to in one light rather than another. The idea that emotions arise from the satisfaction or frustration of desires—the (...) ‘match-mismatch’ view of emotion aetiology—has had several earlier incarnations in the psychology of emotion. Early versions of this proposal were associated with the attempt to replace the typology of emotion found in ordinary language with a simpler theory of drives and to define new emotion types in terms of general properties such as the frustration of a drive. The match-mismatch view survived the demise of that revisionist project and is found today in theories that accept a folk-psychological-style taxonomy of emotion types based on the meaning ascribed by the subject to the stimulus situation. For example, the match-mismatch view forms part of the subtle and complex model of emotion episodes developed over many years by Nico Frijda. According to Frijda, information about the ‘situational antecedents’ of an emotion—the stimulus in its context, including the ongoing goals of the organism—is evaluated for its relevance to the multiple concerns of the organism. Evaluation of match-mismatch—the degree of compatibility between the situation and the subject's goals—forms part of this process. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors show that there is a reading of St. Anselm's ontological argument in Proslogium II that is logically valid (the premises entail the conclusion). This reading takes Anselm's use of the definite description "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" seriously. Consider a first-order language and logic in which definite descriptions are genuine terms, and in which the quantified sentence "there is an x such that..." does not imply "x exists". Then, using an ordinary logic (...) of descriptions and a connected greater-than relation, God's existence logically follows from the claims: (a) there is a conceivable thing than which nothing greater is conceivable, and (b) if <em>x</em> doesn't exist, something greater than x can be conceived. To deny the conclusion, one must deny one of the premises. However, the argument involves no modal inferences and, interestingly, Descartes' ontological argument can be derived from it. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Zachary Ardern criticizes our view that the most promising candidate for a naturalized criterion of disease is the "selected effects" account of biological function and dysfunction. Here we reply to Ardern’s criticisms and, more generally, clarify the relationship between adaptation and dysfunction in the evolution of health and disease.
The historian Raphael Falk has described the gene as a ‘concept in tension’ (Falk 2000) – an idea pulled this way and that by the differing demands of different kinds of biological work. Several authors have suggested that in the light of contemporary molecular biology ‘gene’ is no more than a handy term which acquires a specific meaning only in a specific scientific context in which it occurs. Hence the best way to answer the question ‘what is a gene’, and (...) the only way to provide a truly philosophical answer to that question is to outline the diversity of conceptions of the gene and the reasons for this diversity. In this essay we draw on the extensive literature in the history of biology to explain how the concept has changed over time in response to the changing demands of the biosciences . Finally, we outline some of the conceptions of the gene current today. The seeds of change are implicit in many of those current conceptions and the future of the gene concept looks set to be at as turbulent as the past. (shrink)
The Developmental Systems approach to evolution is defended against the alternative extended replicator approach of Sterelny, Smith and Dickison (1996). A precise definition is provided of the spatial and temporal boundaries of the life-cycle that DST claims is the unit of evolution. Pacé Sterelny et al., the extended replicator theory is not a bulwark against excessive holism. Everything which DST claims is replicated in evolution can be shown to be an extended replicator on Sterelny et al.s definition. Reasons are given (...) for scepticism about the heuristic value claimed for the extended replicator concept. For every competitive, individualistic insight the replicator theorist has a cooperative, systematic blindspot. (shrink)
The relationship between individuals’ creativity and their ethical ideologies appears to be complex. Applying Forsyth’s (1980, 1992) personal moral philosophy model which consists of two independent ethical ideology dimensions, idealism and relativism, we hypothesized and found support for a positive relationship between creativity and relativism. It appears that creative people are less likely than non-creative people to follow universal rules in their moral decision making. However, contrary to our hypothesis and the general stereotype that creative people are less caring about (...) others, we found a positive relationship between creativity and idealism. These findings indicate that highly creative people are likely to be what Forsyth called “situationists,” individuals with both an ethic of caring and a pragmatic moral decision-making style. The finding that creative individuals tend to be situationists, and particularly that they tend to be high in idealism, appears to refute the line of reasoning that argues for a “creative personality” characterized in part by social insensitivity. Understanding the relationship between creativity and ethical ideologies has important implications for researchers, managers and teachers. (shrink)
Darwinists classify biological traits either by their ancestry (homology) or by their adaptive role. Only the latter can provide traditional natural kinds, but only the former is practicable. Process structuralists exploit this embarrassment to argue for non-Darwinian classifications in terms of underlying developmental mechanisms. This new taxonomy will also explain phylogenetic inertia and developmental constraint. I argue that Darwinian homologies are natural kinds despite having historical essences and being spatio-temporally restricted. Furthermore, process structuralist explanations of biological form require an unwarranted (...) assumption about the space of developmental possibility. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy of science gathers empirical data on how key scientific concepts are understood by particular scientific communities. In this paper we briefly describe two recent studies in experimental philosophy of biology, one investigating the concept of the gene, the other the concept of innateness. The use of experimental methods reveals facts about these concepts that would not be accessible using the traditional method of intuitions about possible cases. It also contributes to the study of conceptual change in science, which (...) we understand as the result of a form of conceptual ecology, in which concepts become adapted to specific epistemic niches. (shrink)
This article examines and rejects the claim that 'innateness is canalization'. Waddington's concept of canalization is distinguished from the narrower concept of environmental canalization with which it is often confused. Evidence is presented that the concept of environmental canalization is not an accurate analysis of the existing concept of innateness. The strategy of 'biologicizing the mind' by treating psychological or behavioral traits as if they were environmentally canalized physiological traits is criticized using data from developmental psychobiology. It is concluded that (...) identifying innateness with environmental canalization can only result in adding unhelpful associations from 'folkbiology' to the relatively precise idea of canalization. (shrink)
Psychopathy fascinates. Modernist writers construct out of it an image of alienated individualism pursuing the moment, killing they know not why, exploiting in passing, troubled, if troubled at all, not by guilt, but by perplexity (Camus 1989; Gide 1995; Mailer 1957; Musil 1996). Psychiatrists and psychologists—even those who should know better—are drawn by it to take off into philosophical speculation about morality, evil, and the beast in man (Mullen 1992; Simon 1996). Philosophers succumb to the temptation of attempting to ground (...) speculation in the supposed facticity of psychopathy. -/- Psychopathy is a cultural construct with roots going back to the eighteenth century, but which only came to full flower over the last fifty years (Hare 1998; Lewis 1974). The currently fashionable constructions of psychopathy find wide acceptance among clinicians and academics. The problem is, however, whether the concept has connections that have been established to the behavior, psychopathology, or the structure and function of brain worthy of according even a modest level of scientific status. There is little point in basing an argument on some supposed scientific gold standard if what glitters is iron pyrites (fools' gold). -/- Neil Levy's opening paragraph contains the statement "Yet in other respects they seem quite irrational; so much so that the term moral insanity has sometimes been applied to them" (p. 129). This both asserts that there is a category "them," namely the psychopaths, and connects them to "moral insanity." Moral insanity entered the language of psychiatry when Pritchard chose to use the term to translate Pinel's category of mania sans deliré (Pritchard 1836). Pinel was attempting to conceptualize a range of disorders that bordered on insanity in the sense of severe disturbances of affect, judgment, and behavior, but that were not accompanied by hallucinations or delusions (Pinel 1798/1964). In today's terminology, the cases he described would probably fall into diagnostic groups, including major depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and a range of personality disorders. A number of his more striking case histories involved antisocial and even murderous behavior, which probably reflected Pinel's role in assessing offenders for the criminal courts of Paris. Pritchard's use of the English word "moral" reflected an appeal first to its use at the time to designate something which was like or similar, but not identical (a usage the OED labels "vulgar"), and second moral in the sense of ethical, conforming to virtuous behavior. Anglophones seized on the latter meaning, although Pinel emphasized the former. Forty years later, Henry Maudsley, the most widely read psychiatrist of his generation, could assert that moral insanity was as real as Colour blindness, some people being Colour blind and some moral blind (Maudsley 1879). Moral insanity became connected variously to phrenology with its own bump over the underlying moral cortex, with the twisted genetics of degeneration, with atavistic theories of criminality, and with a range of disorders of brain from epilepsy to frontal lobe damage (Combed 1853; Ellis 1890; Pick 1989). Although it is anachronistic to use the terms "psychopathy" and "moral insanity" together, it is clear they occupied a similar social and psychiatric space, albeit in different era. This should caution against too ready acceptance of psychopathy which may turn out to be as empty and dangerous a conceptualization as moral insanity. Why dangerous? Dangerous to those labeled, because the morally insane and the moral imbeciles were placed in preventive detention in asylums and prisons, and even sterilized in some jurisdictions. Dangerous to society, because it gave a spurious scientific justification for viewing crime not as reflecting the social evils of deprivation, ignorance, and inequality but as the ravages of the born criminals. -/- Psychopaths are not, as Levy asserts, "(causally) responsible for … more than fifty percent of violent crime" (p. 129). A proportion of violent offenders, which varies widely between observers, are labeled psychopaths. This is often on the basis of Hare's psychopathy checklist, which is a subjective, albeit through training aspiring to be reproducible, and to some extent self-sustaining, evaluation system (Hare 1980, 2003). Part of the checklist gathers data on prior antisocial behavior; part constrains the examiner to subjectively estimate such matters as glibness and callousness, part requires judgments about whether the... (shrink)
Donation after cardiac death (DCD) is associated with many problems, including ischemic injury, high rates of delayed allograft function, and frequent organ discard. Furthermore, many potential DCD donors fail to progress to asystole in a manner that would enable safe organ transplantation and no organs are recovered. DCD protocols are based upon the principle that the donor must be declared dead prior to organ recovery. A new protocol is proposed whereby after a donor family agrees to withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments, (...) premortem nephrectomy is performed in advance of end-of-life management. Since nephrectomy should not cause the donor's death, this approach satisfies the dead donor rule. The donor family's wishes are best met by organ donation, successful outcomes for the recipients, and a dignified death for the deceased. This proposal improves the likelihood of achieving these objectives. (shrink)