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Replicate After Reading. On the extraction and evocation of cultural information.

Boudry, Maarten (2017) Replicate After Reading. On the extraction and evocation of cultural information. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Is replication in the cultural domain ubiquitous, rare, or non-existent? And how does this relate to that paradigmatic case of replication, the copying of DNA in living cells? Theorists of cultural evolution are divided on these issues. The most important objection to the replication model has been leveled by Dan Sperber and his colleagues. Cultural transmission, they argue, is almost always reconstructive and transformative, while ‘replication’ can be seen as a rare limiting case at most. Though Sperber’s critique is valuable, I argue that a purely informational approach to replication can clear up some confusion. By means of some thought experiments, I make a distinction between evocation and extraction of cultural information, and apply these concepts at different levels of resolution. I conclude that, even after having taken Sperber’s important points on board, we can still talk about replication in the cultural domain, which is an important issue for certain explanatory projects (i.e. understanding cumulative culture and cultural adaptation).


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
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Boudry, Maarten
Keywords: Keywords: cultural evolution; replication; information; granularity; extraction and evocation; memes
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Depositing User: Maarten Maarten Boudry
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2017 15:24
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 15:24
Item ID: 14032
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Date: 30 September 2017
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14032

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