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Coherence, Muller’s Ratchet, and the Maintenance of Culture

Abrams, Marshall (2014) Coherence, Muller’s Ratchet, and the Maintenance of Culture. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

I investigate the structure of an argument that culture cannot be maintained in a population if each individual acquires a given cultural variant from a single person. I note two puzzling consequences of the argument: It appears to conflict with (a) many models of cultural transmission and (b) real-world cases of cultural transmission. I resolve the first puzzle by showing that one of the models central to the argument is conceptually analogous and mathematically equivalent to one used to investigate the evolution of sexual reproduction. This analogy clarifies what assumptions are crucial to the argument concerning cultural transmission. I resolve the second puzzle by arguing that probabilistic models of epistemological coherence can be reinterpreted as models of mutual support between cultural variants. I develop a model of cultural transmission illustrating this proposal. I suggest that real-world cases that seem to conflict with the original argument may in fact be instances in which mutually supporting cultural variants are learned from different individuals.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Abrams, Marshallmabrams@uab.edu
Additional Information: A revised version will appear in Philosophy of Science.
Keywords: evolution; culture; epistemology; recombination; sex
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology and Archaeology
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Marshall Abrams
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 20:24
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2014 20:27
Item ID: 11139
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology and Archaeology
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 19 July 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11139

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