The change and accumulation of human ideas and their underlying causes comprise one of the most longstanding and profound topics of human thought and investigation. An intensive scientific research program devoted to the study of these changes has emerged over the last forty years, known as cultural evolution. This field has achieved great success especially in developing theory inspired by evolutionary biology, and a particular perspective on the cultural evolutionary process is emerging. However, several other groups of researchers have also been looking at culture with other methods and assumptions, although still within an evolutionary framework, resulting in alternative perspectives. The present proposal is motivated by the idea that a new scientific discipline can achieve maximal success when it is united not around a premature position, but around its subject matter. Thus the field of cultural evolution should incorporate the full range of scientific research. The goal of the proposed research is to take several steps towards promoting such integration: (1) to describe and evaluate the current state of cultural evolutionary research, including an assessment of the level of communication between subfields, in two papers, one scientific and one philosophical; (2) to make concrete practical recommendations in a further publication that will foster integration, such as a common and nonprejudicial terminology and a conversion of controversies into hypotheses to be tested; and (3) to facilitate communication and interdisciplinary access among researchers with a website, cultevol.net, that includes a comprehensive bibliography and a catalogue of available resources for the study of cultural evolution.
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