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Understanding Culture Across Species
Byrne, R.W., BARNARD, P.J., Davidson, I., Janik, V.M., Mcgrew, W.C., Miklosi, A. & Weissner, P.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(8), 341-346
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Recent claims of culture in great apes have provoked fervent argument about the ìtrueî definition of culture, most of which have been unhelpful. Instead, a range of definitions should be used to explore different aspects of the cognitive processes that together result in human culture, many of which can be productively studied in non-humans. A richer cognitive account of the contents of culture needs to be developed and used to compare animal and human cultures, instead of sterile searching for a cognitive Rubicon between them. Exploring six views of culture points to the fundamental contrast of whether culture evolves as by-product of cumulative change in cognitive mechanisms, or whether it is actively selected for its advantages.