Category Archives: New paper

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 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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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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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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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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My paper ‘Populations without Reproduction’ has been accepted by Philosophy of Science (pdf).

Mon article ‘Populations without Reproduction’ a été accepté pour publication par Philosophy of Science (pdf).

Abstract
For a population to undergo evolution by natural selection, it is assumed that the constituents of the population form parent-offspring lineages, that is, that they must reproduce. I challenge this assumption by dividing the notion of reproduction into two subprocesses, that is, multiplication and inheritance, that produce parent-offspring lineages between the parts of a population, and I show that their population-level roles, generation and memory, respectively, can be effected by processes that do not rely on such local-level lineages. I further argue that these two population-level processes, not local parentoffspring lineages, are necessary conditions for a population to undergo Darwinian evolution.

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