The Darwinian Theory of Human Cultural Evolution and Gene-Culture Coevolution

EVOLUTION SINCE DARWIN: THE FIRST 150 YEARS, M. A. Bell, D. J. Futuyma, W. F. Eanes, J. S. Levinton, eds., Sinauer Associates, 2010

Gruter Institute Squaw Valley Conference 2010: Law, Institutions & Human Behavior

20 Pages Posted: 27 May 2010

See all articles by Peter Richerson

Peter Richerson

University of California, Davis

Rob Boyd

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Anthropology

Date Written: May 26, 2010

Abstract

Darwin realized that his theory could have no principled exception for humans. He put the famous teaser, “Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history,” near the end of The Origin of Species. If his evolutionary account made an exception for the human species, the whole edifice might be questioned. As the Quarterly Review’s reviewer of The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex probably the long-hostile and devoutly Catholic St. George Mivart) gloated, the Descent “offers a good opportunity for reviewing his whole position” – and rejecting it (Anonymous, or St. George Mivart, 1871).

Darwin apparently hoped someone else would apply Darwinism to the origin of humans. Lyell (1863), Huxley (1863), and Wallace (1864, 1869) all wrote on the subject, but their work was unsatisfactory because all three had reservations about a selectionist account of human mental evolution. Darwin’s views on the origin of humans did not rely entirely on selection but had a supplementary set of mechanisms consistent with a selectionist account.

Suggested Citation

Richerson, Peter and Boyd, Robert Turner, The Darwinian Theory of Human Cultural Evolution and Gene-Culture Coevolution (May 26, 2010). EVOLUTION SINCE DARWIN: THE FIRST 150 YEARS, M. A. Bell, D. J. Futuyma, W. F. Eanes, J. S. Levinton, eds., Sinauer Associates, 2010; Gruter Institute Squaw Valley Conference 2010: Law, Institutions & Human Behavior. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1616311

Peter Richerson (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Robert Turner Boyd

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Anthropology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1553
United States

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