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The Innate Mind, Volume 3Foundations and the Future$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332834

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332834.001.0001

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Adaptationism, Culture, and the Malleability of Human Nature

Adaptationism, Culture, and the Malleability of Human Nature

16 Adaptationism, Culture, and the Malleability of Human Nature
The Innate Mind, Volume 3

Chandra Sekhar Sripada

Oxford University Press

It is often thought that if an adaptationist explanation of some behavioural phenomenon is true, then this fact shows that a culturist explanation of the very same phenomenon is false, or else the adaptationist explanation preempts or crowds out the culturist explanation in some way. This chapter shows why this so-called competition thesis is misguided. Two evolutionary models are identified — the Information Learning Model and the Strategic Learning Model — which show that adaptationist reasoning can help explain why cultural learning evolved. These models suggest that there will typically be a division of labor between adaptationist and culturist explanations. It is then shown that the Strategic Learning Model, which has been widely neglected by adaptationist thinkers, has important and underappreciated implications for a question that has long been contentious in the behavioural sciences — the question of the malleability of human nature.

Keywords:   adaptionist reasoning, behaviour, competition thesis, Information Learning Model, Strategic Learning Model

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