Guest Staff Member
Cultural evolution theory
Vaesen, a researcher in the Philosophy & Ethics group, addresses the trend in which cultural phenomena such as language, technology and religion are described using methods from evolutionary biology – even though culture actually makes a distinction between man and other biological species. For example Vaesen observes the use of evolutionary trees akin to the tree of life to describes the development of arrowheads or subsistence agriculture.
Vaesen believes this ‘Darwinization of culture’ in scientific research should be treated with caution because, in contrast with biology, in the field of culture the applicability of biological methods to cultural phenomena has never been studied critically. He is the first researcher to tackle this problem. He uses a statistical method to examine whether the biological models still produce the same results if the original assumptions change.