Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712133
Release Date: 2008-06-20
Genre: Social Science

Humans are a striking anomaly in the natural world. While we are similar to other mammals in many ways, our behavior sets us apart. Our unparalleled ability to adapt has allowed us to occupy virtually every habitat on earth using an incredible variety of tools and subsistence techniques. Our societies are larger, more complex, and more cooperative than any other mammal's. In this stunning exploration of human adaptation, Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd argue that only a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can explain these unique characteristics. Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture. Richerson and Boyd illustrate here that culture is neither superorganic nor the handmaiden of the genes. Rather, it is essential to human adaptation, as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion. Drawing on work in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics—and building their case with such fascinating examples as kayaks, corporations, clever knots, and yams that require twelve men to carry them—Richerson and Boyd convincingly demonstrate that culture and biology are inextricably linked, and they show us how to think about their interaction in a way that yields a richer understanding of human nature. In abandoning the nature-versus-nurture debate as fundamentally misconceived, Not by Genes Alone is a truly original and groundbreaking theory of the role of culture in evolution and a book to be reckoned with for generations to come. “I continue to be surprised by the number of educated people (many of them biologists) who think that offering explanations for human behavior in terms of culture somehow disproves the suggestion that human behavior can be explained in Darwinian evolutionary terms. Fortunately, we now have a book to which they may be directed for enlightenment . . . . It is a book full of good sense and the kinds of intellectual rigor and clarity of writing that we have come to expect from the Boyd/Richerson stable.”—Robin Dunbar, Nature “Not by Genes Alone is a valuable and very readable synthesis of a still embryonic but very important subject straddling the sciences and humanities.”—E. O. Wilson, Harvard University

Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712125
Release Date: 2006-06-01
Genre: Social Science

Humans are a striking anomaly in the natural world. While we are similar to other mammals in many ways, our behavior sets us apart. Our unparalleled ability to adapt has allowed us to occupy virtually every habitat on earth using an incredible variety of tools and subsistence techniques. Our societies are larger, more complex, and more cooperative than any other mammal's. In this stunning exploration of human adaptation, Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd argue that only a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can explain these unique characteristics. Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture. Richerson and Boyd illustrate here that culture is neither superorganic nor the handmaiden of the genes. Rather, it is essential to human adaptation, as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion. Drawing on work in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics—and building their case with such fascinating examples as kayaks, corporations, clever knots, and yams that require twelve men to carry them—Richerson and Boyd convincingly demonstrate that culture and biology are inextricably linked, and they show us how to think about their interaction in a way that yields a richer understanding of human nature. In abandoning the nature-versus-nurture debate as fundamentally misconceived, Not by Genes Alone is a truly original and groundbreaking theory of the role of culture in evolution and a book to be reckoned with for generations to come. “I continue to be surprised by the number of educated people (many of them biologists) who think that offering explanations for human behavior in terms of culture somehow disproves the suggestion that human behavior can be explained in Darwinian evolutionary terms. Fortunately, we now have a book to which they may be directed for enlightenment . . . . It is a book full of good sense and the kinds of intellectual rigor and clarity of writing that we have come to expect from the Boyd/Richerson stable.”—Robin Dunbar, Nature “Not by Genes Alone is a valuable and very readable synthesis of a still embryonic but very important subject straddling the sciences and humanities.”—E. O. Wilson, Harvard University

Not By Genes Alone

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226712842
Release Date: 2004-12-31
Genre: Social Science

Humans are a striking anomaly in the natural world. While we are similar to other mammals in many ways, our behavior sets us apart. Our unparalleled ability to adapt has allowed us to occupy virtually every habitat on earth using an incredible variety of tools and subsistence techniques. Our societies are larger, more complex, and more cooperative than any other mammal's. In this stunning exploration of human adaptation, Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd argue that only a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can explain these unique characteristics. Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem from a psychology uniquely adapted to create complex culture. Richerson and Boyd illustrate here that culture is neither superorganic nor the handmaiden of the genes. Rather, it is essential to human adaptation, as much a part of human biology as bipedal locomotion. Drawing on work in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, and economics—and building their case with such fascinating examples as kayaks, corporations, clever knots, and yams that require twelve men to carry them—Richerson and Boyd convincingly demonstrate that culture and biology are inextricably linked, and they show us how to think about their interaction in a way that yields a richer understanding of human nature. In abandoning the nature-versus-nurture debate as fundamentally misconceived, Not by Genes Alone is a truly original and groundbreaking theory of the role of culture in evolution and a book to be reckoned with for generations to come. “I continue to be surprised by the number of educated people (many of them biologists) who think that offering explanations for human behavior in terms of culture somehow disproves the suggestion that human behavior can be explained in Darwinian evolutionary terms. Fortunately, we now have a book to which they may be directed for enlightenment . . . . It is a book full of good sense and the kinds of intellectual rigor and clarity of writing that we have come to expect from the Boyd/Richerson stable.”—Robin Dunbar, Nature “Not by Genes Alone is a valuable and very readable synthesis of a still embryonic but very important subject straddling the sciences and humanities.”—E. O. Wilson, Harvard University

A Different Kind of Animal How Culture Transformed Our Species

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400888528
Release Date: 2017-10-23
Genre: Science

How our ability to learn from each other has been the essential ingredient to our remarkable success as a species Human beings are a very different kind of animal. We have evolved to become the most dominant species on Earth. We have a larger geographical range and process more energy than any other creature alive. This astonishing transformation is usually explained in terms of cognitive ability—people are just smarter than all the rest. But in this compelling book, Robert Boyd argues that culture—our ability to learn from each other—has been the essential ingredient of our remarkable success. A Different Kind of Animal demonstrates that while people are smart, we are not nearly smart enough to have solved the vast array of problems that confronted our species as it spread across the globe. Over the past two million years, culture has evolved to enable human populations to accumulate superb local adaptations that no individual could ever have invented on their own. It has also made possible the evolution of social norms that allow humans to make common cause with large groups of unrelated individuals, a kind of society not seen anywhere else in nature. This unique combination of cultural adaptation and large-scale cooperation has transformed our species and assured our survival—making us the different kind of animal we are today. Based on the Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University, A Different Kind of Animal features challenging responses by biologist H. Allen Orr, philosopher Kim Sterelny, economist Paul Seabright, and evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace, as well as an introduction by Stephen Macedo.

Culture and the Evolutionary Process

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226069338
Release Date: 1988-06-15
Genre: Science

How do biological, psychological, sociological, and cultural factors combine to change societies over the long run? Boyd and Richerson explore how genetic and cultural factors interact, under the influence of evolutionary forces, to produce the diversity we see in human cultures. Using methods developed by population biologists, they propose a theory of cultural evolution that is an original and fair-minded alternative to the sociobiology debate.

The Origin and Evolution of Cultures

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199883127
Release Date: 2005-01-20
Genre: Science

Oxford presents, in one convenient and coherently organized volume, 20 influential but until now relatively inaccessible articles that form the backbone of Boyd and Richerson's path-breaking work on evolution and culture. Their interdisciplinary research is based on two notions. First, that culture is crucial for understanding human behavior; unlike other organisms, socially transmitted beliefs, attitudes, and values heavily influence our behavior. Secondly, culture is part of biology: the capacity to acquire and transmit culture is a derived component of human psychology, and the contents of culture are deeply intertwined with our biology. Culture then is a pool of information, stored in the brains of the population that gets transmitted from one brain to another by social learning processes. Therefore, culture can account for both our outstanding ecological success as well as the maladaptations that characterize much of human behavior. The interest in this collection will span anthropology, psychology, economics, philosophy, and political science.

How Humans Evolved

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393936773
Release Date: 2014-09-16
Genre: Social Science

How Humans Evolved teaches the processes that shape human evolution with a unique blend of evolutionary theory, population genetics, and behavioral ecology. The new edition continues to offer the most up-to-date research—in particular, significantly revised coverage of how recent discoveries are shaping our history of human evolution—while now giving you the best tools to engage your students in and out of the classroom.

The Secret of Our Success

Author: Joseph Henrich
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400873296
Release Date: 2015-10-27
Genre: Science

Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains—on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations. Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.

Human Natures

Author: Paul R. Ehrlich
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 155963779X
Release Date: 2000-08-01
Genre: Science

Explores the impact and inconsistancies of human evolution upon human nature, examining the physical, intellectual, cultural, and sexual aspects of human development and behaviors in the light of current scientific theory.

Coevolution

Author: William H. Durham
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 0804721564
Release Date: 1991
Genre: Social Science

Charles Darwin's "On the Origins of Species" had two principal goals: to show that species had not been separately created and to show that natural selection had been the main force behind their proliferation and descent from common ancestors. In "Coevolution," the author proposes a powerful new theory of cultural evolution--that is, of the descent with modification of the shared conceptual systems we call "cultures"--that is parallel in many ways to Darwin's theory of organic evolution. The author suggests that a process of cultural selection, or preservation by preference, driven chiefly by choice or imposition depending on the circumstances, has been the main but not exclusive force of cultural change. He shows that this process gives rise to five major patterns or "modes" in which cultural change is at odds with genetic change. Each of the five modes is discussed in some detail and its existence confirmed through one or more case studies chosen for their heuristic value, the robustness of their data, and their broader implications. But "Coevolution" predicts not simply the existence of the five modes of gene-culture relations; it also predicts their relative importance in the ongoing dynamics of cultural change in particular cases. The case studies themselves are lucid and innovative reexaminations of an array of oft-pondered anthropological topics--plural marriage, sickle-cell anemia, basic color terms, adult lactose absorption, incest taboos, headhunting, and cannibalism. In a general case, the author's goal is to demonstrate that an evolutionary analysis of both genes and culture has much to contribute to our understanding of human diversity, particularly behavioral diversity, and thus to the resolution of age-old questions about nature and nurture, genes and culture.

Cultural Evolution

Author: Alex Mesoudi
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226520452
Release Date: 2011-07-30
Genre: Political Science

Charles Darwin changed the course of scientific thinking by showing how evolution accounts for the stunning diversity and biological complexity of life on earth. Recently, there has also been increased interest in the social sciences in how Darwinian theory can explain human culture. Covering a wide range of topics, including fads, public policy, the spread of religion, and herd behavior in markets, Alex Mesoudi shows that human culture is itself an evolutionary process that exhibits the key Darwinian mechanisms of variation, competition, and inheritance. This cross-disciplinary volume focuses on the ways cultural phenomena can be studied scientifically—from theoretical modeling to lab experiments, archaeological fieldwork to ethnographic studies—and shows how apparently disparate methods can complement one another to the mutual benefit of the various social science disciplines. Along the way, the book reveals how new insights arise from looking at culture from an evolutionary angle. Cultural Evolution provides a thought-provoking argument that Darwinian evolutionary theory can both unify different branches of inquiry and enhance understanding of human behavior.

Cultural Evolution

Author: Peter J. Richerson
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262318303
Release Date: 2013-11-01
Genre: Psychology

Over the past few decades, a growing body of research has emerged from a variety of disciplines to highlight the importance of cultural evolution in understanding human behavior. Wider application of these insights, however, has been hampered by traditional disciplinary boundaries. To remedy this, in this volume leading researchers from theoretical biology, developmental and cognitive psychology, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, history, and economics come together to explore the central role of cultural evolution in different aspects of human endeavor.The contributors take as their guiding principle the idea that cultural evolution can provide an important integrating function across the various disciplines of the human sciences, as organic evolution does for biology. The benefits of adopting a cultural evolutionary perspective are demonstrated by contributions on social systems, technology, language, and religion. Topics covered include enforcement of norms in human groups, the neuroscience of technology, language diversity, and prosociality and religion. The contributors evaluate current research on cultural evolution and consider its broader theoretical and practical implications, synthesizing past and ongoing work and sketching a roadmap for future cross-disciplinary efforts.ContributorsQuentin D. Atkinson, Andrea Baronchelli, Robert Boyd, Briggs Buchanan, Joseph Bulbulia, Morten H. Christiansen, Emma Cohen, William Croft, Michael Cysouw, Dan Dediu, Nicholas Evans, Emma Flynn, Pieter François, Simon Garrod, Armin W. Geertz, Herbert Gintis, Russell D. Gray, Simon J. Greenhill, Daniel B. M. Haun, Joseph Henrich, Daniel J. Hruschka, Marco A. Janssen, Fiona M. Jordan, Anne Kandler, James A. Kitts, Kevin N. Laland, Laurent Lehmann, Stephen C. Levinson, Elena Lieven, Sarah Mathew, Robert N. McCauley, Alex Mesoudi, Ara Norenzayan, Harriet Over, Ju ̈rgen Renn, Victoria Reyes-García, Peter J. Richerson, Stephen Shennan, Edward G. Slingerland, Dietrich Stout, Claudio Tennie, Peter Turchin, Carel van Schaik, Matthijs Van Veelen, Harvey Whitehouse, Thomas Widlok, Polly Wiessner, David Sloan Wilson.

Darwin s Unfinished Symphony

Author: Kevin N. Laland
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400884872
Release Date: 2017-02-21
Genre: Science

How culture transformed human evolution Humans possess an extraordinary capacity for cultural production, from the arts and language to science and technology. How did the human mind—and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture—evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others—it is also the key driving force behind that process. Kevin Laland shows how the learned and socially transmitted activities of our ancestors shaped our intellects through accelerating cycles of evolutionary feedback. The truly unique characteristics of our species—such as our intelligence, language, teaching, and cooperation—are not adaptive responses to predators, disease, or other external conditions. Rather, humans are creatures of their own making. Drawing on his own groundbreaking research, and bringing it to life with vivid natural history, Laland explains how animals imitate, innovate, and have remarkable traditions of their own. He traces our rise from scavenger apes in prehistory to modern humans able to design iPhones, dance the tango, and send astronauts into space. This book tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the key experiments, the false leads, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution. It is the story of how Darwin's intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind.

Sense and Nonsense

Author: Kevin N. Laland
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199586967
Release Date: 2011-04-07
Genre: Medical

This book asks whether evolution can help us to understand human behaviour and explores diverse evolutionary methods and arguments. It provides a short, readable introduction to the science behind the works of Dawkins, Dennett, Wilson and Pinker. It is widely used in undergraduate courses around the world.

Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection

Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191609558
Release Date: 2009-03-26
Genre: Philosophy

In 1859 Darwin described a deceptively simple mechanism that he called "natural selection," a combination of variation, inheritance, and reproductive success. He argued that this mechanism was the key to explaining the most puzzling features of the natural world, and science and philosophy were changed forever as a result. The exact nature of the Darwinian process has been controversial ever since, however. Godfrey-Smith draws on new developments in biology, philosophy of science, and other fields to give a new analysis and extension of Darwin's idea. The central concept used is that of a "Darwinian population," a collection of things with the capacity to undergo change by natural selection. From this starting point, new analyses of the role of genes in evolution, the application of Darwinian ideas to cultural change, and "evolutionary transitions" that produce complex organisms and societies are developed. Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection will be essential reading for anyone interested in evolutionary theory