Browsing All Posts published on »April, 2012«

More on Cultural Genotypes

April 26, 2012 by


Thanks to all who left comments on my previous post. This discussion has been very useful and led me to adjust my views. Here’s how I would formulate the issues now: (1) ‘Phenotype’ is determined jointly by (i) genetically stored information, (ii) culturally stored information, and (iii) the environment. It doesn’t make sense to speak […]

What’s Cultural Genotype?

April 24, 2012 by


A week ago I was at a workshop Rules as Genotypes in Cultural Evolution (check out the Focus Article by Elinor Ostrom that set the stage for the meeting). One major topic of discussion was what might be the cultural analog of genotype. In biology phenotype is the observable traits and characteristics of an organism, […]

The Z-Curve of Human Egalitarianism

April 16, 2012 by


As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution is a complex book that addresses many roles of religion in human social evolution. One theme that I was particularly interested in was the influence of religious developments on the evolution of human egalitarianism, especially during the Axial Age. The starting point for […]

How Not to Write a Book

April 15, 2012 by

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I just finished writing a commentary on Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution. Bellah’s ideas are highly stimulating and I want to discuss one central issue of the book, that of evolution of egalitarianism in the next blog. But first a few words about the book itself. Bellah wrote Religion in Human Evolution over the […]

Catherine M. Tucker: Comments on Ostrom

April 11, 2012 by

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Ostrom’s article presents a cogently argued and lucid approach to investigating the evolution of institutions in complex social-ecological systems.   It combines a commitment  to testable questions, rigorous data collection, attention to existing data and theories, and synthetic integration and analysis of data.   It is sufficiently flexible to allow for novel interpretations and emergence of new […]

Jenna Bednar: Three Questions for the Institutional Dynamics Agenda Related to Inter-Rule Relationships

April 11, 2012 by

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To the thoughtful foundational essays written by Wilson & Gowdy and Elinor Ostrom, I suggest three questions. Because it is often helpful to have a concrete application in mind, I’ll phrase this commentary in terms of constitutional dynamics. Constitutions are particularly interesting for our study: they are sets of related rules, each clause formally independent, […]

The ‘Dune Hypothesis’

April 7, 2012 by


I am an avid consumer of science fiction and fantasy novels. The most interesting aspect of such fiction to me is how authors construct social structures within which their heroes operate. Whether this happens in some alternate world where magic is possible, or “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” the authors […]


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