KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Rachael Brown
KLI Colloquia
Impossible Cultures? Exploring the Applicability of Evo-Devo to Cultural Evolution
Rachael BROWN (University of Western Ontario)
2014-04-10 17:15 - 2014-04-10 17:15
Organized by KLI

Topic description:
While evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo) has had a big impact upon our understanding and study of morphological evolution, the uptake of the EvoDevo perspective more broadly has been patchy. Discussions of evolvability, evolutionary innovation, and evolutionary novelty beyond the morphological realm remain few and far between. While this is the case, there is no in-principle impediment to applications of the EvoDevo perspective to other domains, for example, behavioral, cultural, and cognitive evolution (Brown 2014). In this light, here, I offer a preliminary analysis of cultural evolution from an EvoDevo perspective. In the first half of the paper, I outline two approaches to understanding cultural traits from an EvoDevo perspective. In the second half, I use one of these approaches to develop a number of general hypotheses regarding the features of populations indicative of “cultural evolvability.”


Biographical note:
Rachael Brown works primarily at the intersection of the philosophy of biology, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of science. Her research todate has focused on methodological and theoretical issues in evolutionary biology and the study of animal behavior. Rachael holds a BA (Hons) and BSc from the University of Melbourne and a PhD (2013) from the Australian National University. She was a Writing-Up Fellow at the KLI in 2011 and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Science and Philosophy at the Rotman Institute for Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. In July 2014 will take up a lectureship in Mind & Metaphysics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Rachael’s full CV and publications are available at her website: