The Cultural Evolution of Communal
Practices in Inquiry
(1) Unlike biological evolution, cultural is teleological in nature. Our cognitive methods and procedures (software)—in contrast to our cognitive faculties and capacities (hardware)—emerge through a process of rational rather than Darwinian natural selection. (2) In particular, the emergence of trust and collaboration in inquiry is provided for by considerations of cost-effectiveness relative to the aims of the enterprise. Any communicatively interacting group of intelligent inquirers is bound to develop into a collaborating community under the pressure of self-interest. (3) The practices that characterize the operations of a scientific community should be seen as the products of such a purposively canalized cultural evolution based on rational selection.
Scientifically-minded epistemologists nowadays incline to consider how the workings of the "mind" can be explained in terms of the operations of the "brain."1 But this approach has its limits. Biological evolution is doubtless what accounts for the cognitive machinery whose functioning provides for our possession of intelligence, but explaining the ways in which we use it largely calls for a rather different sort of evolutionary approach, one that addresses the development of thought‐