Friday, February 11, 2005

The Evolution of Cognition: Niche Construction, Culture, and Environmental Complexity

Duke Center for Philosophy of Biology

Fourth Annual Conference on recent work in Biology and Philosophy

The Evolution of Cognition: Niche Construction, Culture, and Environmental Complexity

April 23-24, 2005

Duke University, Durham NC

This conference aims to investigate the roles that niche construction,cultural evolution, and environmental complexity play in shaping the mind. The conference will address these and related questions: How, and to what extent, has niche construction (organism-produced environmental change) played a role in the evolution of cognition? Is niche construction a kind of cultural transmission or should it be viewed as something distinct? What are the cognitive preconditions for cultural evolution? How is being a cultural species likely to affect the direction or rate of cognitive evolution? How do organisms restructure their environments to simplify or otherwise alter a problem domain? What role has environmental complexity played in the evolution of mind? What is environmental complexity and how does it determine fitness differences in interaction with cognitive capabilities, niche construction, and culture?

Speakers will include Peter Godfrey-Smith (Harvard, ANU), PeterRicherson (UC Davis), and F. John Odling-Smee (Oxford).

No registration fee.
The conference will include contributed papers in sessions of 30 minutes including questions. If you would like to submit a contributed presentation, please send a 300 word abstract with your name and affiliation to Marshall Abrams at by March 18, 2005. Decisions about acceptance will be made by March 25.More details will be available soon at

Conference Organizers: Marshall Abrams, Stefan Linquist, David M.Kaplan, Grant Ramsey

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