A Pricean Foundation for Cultural Evolutionary Theory
November 19, 2021
X Conference of the Spanish Society for Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science
The Price equation is currently considered one of the fundamental equations – or even the fundamental equation – of evolution. In this paper, we explore the role of this equation within cultural evolutionary theory. More specifically, we use it to account for the explanatory power and the theoretical structure of a certain generalised version of dual-inheritance theory. First, we argue that, in spite of not having a definite empirical content, the Price equation offers a suitable formalisation of the processes of cultural evolution, and provides a powerful heuristic device for discovering the actual causes of cultural change and accumulation. Second, we argue that, as a consequence of this, a certain version of the Price equation is the fundamental law of cultural evolutionary theory. In order to support this claim, we sketch the ideal structure of dual-inheritance theory and we stress the unificatory role that the Price equation plays in it.