Publications and drafts by topic: Cultural Evolution
We discuss two inference patterns for inferring the coevolution of two characters based on their properties at a single point in time and determine when developmental interactions can be used to deduce evolutionary order. We discuss the use of the inference patterns we present in the biological literature and assess the arguments’ validity, the degree of support they give to the evolutionary conclusion, how they can be corroborated with empirical evidence, and to what extent they suggest new empirically addressable questions. We suggest that the developmental argument is uniquely applicable to cognitive-cultural coevolution.
Ehud Lamm and Eva Jablonka, Lamarck’s Two Legacies: A 21st-century Perspective on Use-Disuse and the Inheritance of Acquired Characters. In Interdisciplina. vol 3 (5): January-April 2015, 2015 [Page|PDF ]
Lamarck has left many legacies for future generations of biologists. His best known legacy was an explicit suggestion, developed in the Philosophie zoologique (PZ), that the effects of use and disuse (acquired characters) can be inherited and can drive species transformation. This suggestion was formulated as two laws, which we refer to as the law of biological plasticity and the law of phenotypic continuity. We put these laws in their historical context and distinguish between Lamarck’s key insights and later neo-Lamarckian interpretations of his ideas. We argue that Lamarck’s emphasis on the role played by the organization of living beings and his physiological model of reproduction are directly relevant to 21st-century concerns, and illustrate this by discussing intergenerational genomic continuity and cultural evolution.
Ehud Lamm, Cultural group selection and holobiont evolution – a comparison of structures of evolution. In Snait Gissis, Ehud Lamm, and Ayelet Shavit (eds.), Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences. MIT Press., 2017 [Page|PDF ]
The notion of structure of evolution is proposed to capture what it means to say that two situations exhibit the same or similar constellations of factors affecting evolution. The key features of holobiont evolution and the hologenome theory are used to define a holobiont structure of evolution. Finally, Cultural Group Selection, a set of hypotheses regarding the evolution of human cognition, is shown to match the holobiont structure closely though not perfectly.
Unpublished drafts and work in progress
People’s attitudes towards social norms play a crucial role in understanding group behavior. Norm psychology accounts focus on processes of norm internalization that influence people’s norm following attitudes but pay considerably less attention to social identity and group identification processes. Social identity theory studies group identity but works with a relatively thin and instrumental notion of social norms. We argue that to best understand both sets of phenomena, it is important to integrate the insights of both approaches. We highlight tensions between the two approaches and conflicting observations, and sketch the contours of an integrated account. We conclude with some observations on how a twofold account may contribute to studying the evolution of human groups and understanding behavior and social norms in complex societies.