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Culture and the Course of Human Evolution$
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Gary Tomlinson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226548494

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226548661.001.0001

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The Consequence of Feedback II: Niche Construction and Culture

The Consequence of Feedback II: Niche Construction and Culture

(p.35) Chapter 3 The Consequence of Feedback II: Niche Construction and Culture
Culture and the Course of Human Evolution

Gary Tomlinson

University of Chicago Press

Organisms alter the environments in which they live; that is, they construct their niches, shifting the circumstances of their selection even as they are differentially selected. This fact in effect yokes the environment together with organisms in trans-temporal feedback loops of mutual change. It links the environment to organisms’ phenotypes and genotypes, making it a third element in the information-transmitting processes of evolution. The linkage holds for cultural phenotypes as well as biological ones, and niche construction models therefore can integrate culture into selective processes in a way not found in other models of biocultural evolution, whether offered by sociobiologists, evolutionary psychologists, dual inheritance theorists, or gene-culture coevolutionists. Recent formal models of niche construction that incorporate culture suggest its rich potential to alter natural selection. They are the place to start in rethinking the relation of culture and biology in deep human history.

Keywords:   niche construction, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, dual inheritance theory, gene-culture coevolution

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