8. Action and Culture

Cumulativeculturaladaptationismost

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Unformatted text preview: e’re prone to imitate the successful. E.g.: people tend to imitate prestigious people even in domains not obviously related to their success; (cf. advertising). E.g.: poor and less educated people imitate people of high local status, not socially distant elites whose life situation is far from potential adopters. 22 How the capacities for culture possibly evolve? Data: Chimps are overwhelmingly dependent on collected food, while human foragers get almost all their calories from extracted or hunted resources. Humans live in a wider range of environments than other primates, because culture allows the relatively rapid accumulation of better strategies for the exploitation of local environment. 23 Socio/cultural learning may be an adaptation to Pleistocene (i.e. around 110 thousand years ago until 12 thousand years ago) climate fluctuations. Cumulative cultural adaptation is most advantageous when there are big differences between environments in time/space and when variation arises slowly enough to make transmission and accumulation by social learning useful. 24 If environments change too rapidly, selection will favor individual learning but no transmission (why learn something useless to cope with my environment?). On the other hand, if environments change too slowly then ordinary organic evolution can track the fluctuations more faithfully and at less cost than a system of social learning. A good how­possibly answer is that social learning is an adaptation to increased climate variation during the las...
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This document was uploaded on 10/26/2011 for the course PHIL 3501 at Carleton CA.

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