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The Nurture of Nature: Biology, Psychology and Culture

By MARY ELIZABETH HANNON

Abstract

In this thesis I explore what consequences taking development seriously in evolutionary considerations will have for how we understand the evolution of psychology and culture. I first explicate the relationship between development and evolution that informs a number of approaches to evolution, including neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology and evolutionary developmental biology. I argue that, to a greater or lesser extent, developmental processes have been misconstrued in these accounts and that the full role of development, from an evolutionary point of view, has not always been acknowledged. Instead, I suggest that a better model of the relationship between development and evolution can be found in developmental systems theory. \ud I explore the neo-Darwinian underpinnings of a number of accounts of the evolution of culture and psychology, including the branch of evolutionary psychology associated with the work of, among others, John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, and the gene-culture co-evolutionary account of Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd. I argue that as well as being vulnerable to the same sorts of problems that plague neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology, they face other difficulties. These accounts suppose an internalist model of the mind, and this model is neither justified nor useful. The extended mind hypothesis offers a different model of the mind whereby cognitive processes can be partially constituted by structures in the environment. I sketch an alternative account of what the evolution of human psychology and culture by combining a developmental systems approach to evolution and development with the extended mind hypothesis. This will result in a very different understanding of the relationship between biology, psychology and culture.\u

Topics: Philosophy of biology, genes, evolution, development, evo-devo, developmental systems theory, extended cognition, cultural evolution, niche construction
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:337
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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