Monday, April 04, 2005

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

Fourth Annual Conference on recent work in Biology and Philosophy:

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

Duke University, Durham NC, April 23-24, 2005

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), Peter Richerson (UC Davis), F. John Odling-Smee (Oxford), and William Wimsatt (Chicago).

Please register for the conference by sending and email to mabrams (at) No registration fee is required.

The conference will include contributed papers in sessions of 30 minutes including questions. If you would like to give a contributed paper on the evolution of cognition, cultural evolution, niche construction, or another topic relevant to the conference, please send a 300 word abstract with your name and affiliation to Marshall Abrams at mabrams (at) by APRIL 1, 2005. Decisions about acceptance will be made by April 4. PLEASE NOTE that the deadline for submissions has been extended.

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

Conference posters and more details will be available here soon.

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