Award / Prix

I was awared the 2014 Philosophy of Science Association Recent Ph.D. Essay Award, for my paper “Populations without Reproduction”. The Recent Ph.D. Essay Award is awarded annually to the best single-authored essay published in Philosophy of Science during the award year by someone who received a Ph.D. within the past five years.

J’ai reçu le 2014 Philosophy of Science Association Recent Ph.D. Essay Award pour mon article “Populations without Reproduction”. Le prix est décerné annuellement au meilleur article publié dans le journal Philosophy of Science écrit par un seul auteur ayant reçu son grade d0ctoral dans les cinq années précédent la publication de l’article.

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New paper/Nouvelle publication

My paper ‘Modularity and Recombination in Technological Evolution’ has been accepted by Philosophy & Technology. (pdf)

Mon article ‘Modularity and Recombination in Technological Evolution’ a été accepté pour publication par Philosophy & Technology. (pdf)

Abstract
Cultural evolutionists typically emphasize the informational aspect of social transmission, that of the learning, stabilizing, and transformation of mental representations along cultural lineages. Social transmission also depends on the production of public displays such as utterances, behaviors, and artifacts, as these displays are what social learners learn from. However, the generative processes involved in the production of public displays are usually abstracted away in both theoretical assessments and formal models. The aim of this paper is to complement the informational view with a generative dimension, emphasizing how the production of public displays both enable and constrain the production of modular cultural recipes through the process of innovation by recombination. In order to avoid a circular understanding of cultural recombination and cultural modularity, we need to take seriously the nature and structure of the generative processes involved in the maintenance of cultural traditions. A preliminary analysis of what recombination and modularity consist of is offered. It is shown how the study of recombination and modularity depends on a finer understanding of the generative processes involved in the production phase of social transmission. Finally, it is argued that the recombination process depends on the inventive production of an interface between modules and the complex recipes in which they figure, and that such interfaces are the direct result of the generative processes involved in the production of these recipes. The analysis is supported by the case study of the transition from the Oldowan to the Early Acheulean flake detachment techniques.

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New Presentation/Nouvelle Présentation

This is the slideshow that I use in conferences when presenting the results of my paper All Innovations are Equal, but Some more than Others: (Re)integrating modification processes to the origins of cumulative culture (Biol Theory (2015) 10:322–335; DOI 10.1007/s13752-015-0227-x,). (pdf)

Voici le diaporama que j’utilise en conférence lorsque je présente les résultats de mon article All Innovations are Equal, but Some more than Others: (Re)integrating modification processes to the origins of cumulative culture (Biol Theory (2015) 10:322–335; DOI 10.1007/s13752-015-0227-x,). (pdf)

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New paper/Nouvelle publication

My paper ‘Evo-Devo and Culture’ has been accepted as a chapter for Evolutionary developmental biology – A reference guide, edited by Laura Nuño de la Rosa, Gerd Müller, and Sergio Balari Ravera (link forthcoming).

Mon article ‘Evo-Devo and Culture’’ a été accepté pour publication dans Evolutionary developmental biology – A reference guide, édité par Laura Nuño de la Rosa, Gerd Müller, et Sergio Balari Ravera (lien à venir).

 

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Webinar contribution

I contributed to an online book club event at the International Cognition and Culture Institute on David Wengrow’s recent book “The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction“. See my contribution here.

J’ai contribué à un club de lecture en ligne à l’International Cognition and Culture Institute au sujet du récent livre de David Wengrow intitulé “The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction“. Vous pouvez lire ma contribution ici (en anglais).

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New paper/Nouvelle publication

My paper ‘All innovations are equal, but some more than others: (Re)integrating modification processes to the origins of cumulative culture’ has been accepted by Biological Theory. (pdf)

Mon article ‘All innovations are equal, but some more than others: (Re)integrating modification processes to the origins of cumulative culture’ a été accepté pour publication par Biological Theory. (pdf)

Abstract
The cumulative open-endedness of human cultures represents a major break with the social traditions of nonhuman species. As traditions are altered and the modifications retained along the cultural lineage, human populations are capable of producing complex traits that no individual could have figured out on its own. For cultures to produce increasingly complex traditions, improvements and modifications must be kept for the next generations to build upon them. High-fidelity transmission would thus act as a ratchet, retaining modifications and allowing the historical build-up of complex traditions. Mechanisms acting against slippage are important, of course, but cultures also need to move forward for the ratchet to retain anything valuable. In this paper, I argue that studies of modification-generating processes and the many ways they shape cumulative culture have been overlooked. Key to a better understanding of cultural modification processes is taking seriously that cultural traditions consist of complex, hierarchically-structured recipes. Taking such structures seriously and assessing the different ways they can vary in cultural design space, a novel picture for the onset of cumulative cultural evolution emerges. I argue that a possible impediment for cumulative culture in non-human animals may in fact reside not so much on the fidelity of their social transmission but rather on the constraints, internal and external, of their capacity to modify complex, hierarchically-structured cultural recipes.

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New postdoc/Nouveau postdoc

I am now starting a Technology Studies PostDoc at the Central European University (CEU), in Budapest. My project is part of the Science Studies Program and concerns distributed cognition in science. My research will focus on the diachronic aspects of the formation, transformation, and dissolution of distributed cognitive systems in science, especially in paleoarchaeological research, and the role of the introduction of novel technologies (e.g., objective dating methods, computers, etc.) in changing such systems. I am currently affiliated both to the Philosophy and Cognitive Science departments. Moreover, I am now a member of the Social Mind Center (Somic) also based at the CEU.

Je débute un projet de recherche postdoctoral en Technology Studies à la Central European University (CEU), à Budapest. Mon projet s’intègre au Science Studies Program et concerne la cognition distribuée en science. Ma recherche focalise sur les aspects diachroniques de la formation, transformation, et dissolution de systèmes de cognition distribuée en science, et plus particulièrement en paléoarchéologie. De plus, je m’intéresse au rôle de l’introduction de nouvelles technologies (ex: méthodes de datation objectives, ordinateurs, etc.) comme agents de transformation de ces systèmes de cognition distribuée. Je suis actuellement affilié aux départements de Philosophie et de Sciences Cognitives. De plus, je suis égalemetn membre du Social Mind Center (Somic), lui-aussi au CEU.

 

 

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Webinar Contribution

I contributed to an online book club event at the International Cognition and Culture Institute on Thom Scott-Phillips’ recent book “Speaking Our Mind“. See my contribution here.

J’ai contribué à un club de lecture en ligne à l’International Cognition and Culture Institute au sujet du récent livre de Thom Scott-Phillips intitulé “Speaking Our Mind“. Vous pouvez lire ma contribution ici (en anglais).

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New paper/Nouvelle publication

My paper ‘Mapping complex social transmission: Technical constraints on the evolution of cultures’ has been accepted by Biology & Philosophy. (pdf)

Mon article ‘Mapping complex social transmission: Technical constraints on the evolution of cultures’ a été accepté pour publication par Biology & Philosophy. (pdf)

Abstract
Social transmission is at the core of cultural evolutionary theory. It occurs when a demonstrator uses mental representations to produce some public displays (utterances, behaviors, artifacts, etc.) which in turn allow a learner to acquire similar mental representations. Although cultural evolutionists do not dispute this view of social transmission, they typically abstract away from the multistep nature of the process when they speak of cultural variants at large, thereby referring both to variation and evolutionary change in mental representations as well as in their corresponding public displays. This conflation suggests that differentiating each step of the transmission process is redundant. In this paper, I examine different forms of interplay between the multistep nature of social transmission and the metric spaces used by cultural evolutionists to measure cultural variation and to model cultural change. I offer a conceptual analysis of what assumptions seem to be at work when cultural evolutionists conflate the complex causal sequence of social transmission as a single space of variation in which populations evolve. To this aim, I use the framework of variation spaces, a formal framework commonly used in evolutionary biology, and I develop two theoretical concepts, ‘technique’ and ‘technical space’, for addressing cases where the complexity of social transmission defies the handy assumption of a single variation space for cultural change.

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New paper/Nouvelle publication

My review of Linnda R. Caporael, James R. Griesemer, and William C. Wimsatt (eds.): Developing scaffolds in evolution, culture, and cognition is now available online (pdf).

Mon compte-rendu de Linnda R. Caporael, James R. Griesemer, and William C. Wimsatt (eds.): Developing scaffolds in evolution, culture, and cognition est maintenant disponible en ligne (pdf).

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