Paris, California and the quest for a theory of cultural change


  • Lorenzo Baravalle Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas, Universidade Federal do ABC, Brasil Centro de Filosofia das Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal



cultural evolution, population genetics, epidemiology, cultural attractors, levels of causation


The debate on the possibility of an evolutionary theory of cultural change has heated up, over the last years, due to the supposed incompatibilities between the two main theoretical proposals in the field: dual inheritance theory and cultural epidemiology. The former, first formulated in the 1980’s by a group of biologists and anthropologists mostly hosted at Californian universities, supports an analogy between genetic inheritance and cultural transmission. Cultural epidemiology, more recently formulated by Dan Sperber and his collaborator (mostly hosted at Parisian universities), denies the defensibility of such an analogy and put forward a partially alternative model. But how much do these proposals actually differ with each other? In this article, I shall argue that less than what cultural epidemiologists use to think.

Author Biography

Lorenzo Baravalle, Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas, Universidade Federal do ABC, Brasil Centro de Filosofia das Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Profesor asistente de epistemología en el Centro de Ciencias Naturales y Humanas de la Universidade Federal do ABC (Brasil). Investigador del CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico).


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How to Cite

Baravalle, L. (2019). Paris, California and the quest for a theory of cultural change. Revista De Humanidades De Valparaíso, (14), 223–240.

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