Culture and Transitions in Individuality

In Luiz Dutra & Alexandre Meyer Luz (eds.), Rumos da Epistemologia v. 11. Santa Catarina, Brazil: Núcleo de Epistemologia e Lógica. pp. 395-408 (2011)
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Abstract

Some "major" evolutionary transitions have been described as transitions in individuality. In this depiction, natural selection might bring about new kinds of individuals, whose evolutionary dynamics takes place in a novel way. Using a categorization proposed by Godfrey-Smith, this transition is fully accomplished when a new "paradigmatic" Darwinian population emerges. In this paper I investigate whether at some point in the evolution in the hominin lineage a transition of this kind might have happened, by assuming some of the theses of dual inheritance theory, especially about the role played by a conformist bias. I argue that Godfrey-Smith misses in his book a scenario in which conformism is one of the preconditions for a transition towards a Darwinian population of cultural groups.

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