Thinking About the Cultural Evolution of Thinking


The Workshop took place on January 22, 2021, via Zoom


Aims & Scope

Over the past decades, theories of cultural evolution gained more and more attention in the special sciences and in philosophy of science. Of particular interest is the mutual interaction and connection between culture and cognition. Culture has a huge impact on how (and what) we think and core aspects of thinking (such as memory, causal understanding, a theory of mind, rationality and other ‘cognitive gadgets’) are responsible for the products of cultural evolution.

Both share a Darwinian explanatory framework at their core, involving variation, selection, and reproduction/transmission. However, biological and cultural evolution differ in many important aspects and precise mechanisms – and many of these differences originate in the fact that we face ‘thinkers’ and more or less rational agents in cultural evolution. For example, cultural selection is subject to a whole range of ‘biases’ that have no analogue in biological evolution and are mostly grounded in cognitive capacities of the cultural agents.

While it is the aim of the special sciences to empirically explore this vast field of possible links between culture and thinking, social learning and cognition, it is the aim of philosophy of science to conceptually structure and represent this growing body of research. This workshop aimed at bringing together scholars of both fields to inspire dialogue and future collaborations.

Invited Speakers

  • Azita Chellappoo (Bochum)
  • Cecilia Heyes (Oxford)
  • Larissa Mendoza Straffon (Bergen)
  • Samir Okasha (Bristol)
  • Mason Youngblood (New York)


about the
Cultural Evolution

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