Peter J. Richerson

Peter J. Richerson is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California—Davis. His research focuses on the processes of cultural evolution. His 1985 book with Robert Boyd, Culture and the Evolutionary Process, applied the mathematical tools used by organic evolutionists to study a number of basic problems in human cultural evolution. His recent books with Boyd includes Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution, an introduction to cultural evolution aimed at a broad audience and The Origins and Evolution of Cultures, a compendium of their more important papers and book chapters. His recent publications used theoretical models to try to understand some of the main events in human evolution, such as the evolution of the advanced capacity for imitation (and hence cumulative cultural evolution) in humans, the origins of tribal and larger scale cooperation, and the origins of agriculture. He and his colleagues also investigate cultural evolution in laboratory microsocieties.

Recent Posts

August 9, 2020 in Podcast

Peter J. Richerson: Morality from an Evolutionary Perspective

Listen: Spotify - Google - Apple - Stitcher David discusses morality from an evolutionary perspective with analytic philosopher Peter J. Richerson. Peter is best known for his seminal work on cultural evolution with his frequent collaborator Robert…
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December 21, 2016 in Biology, Politics

Darwin Applied to Trump: Can Evolutionary Theory Help Us Understand the Appeal of Donald Trump?

A Darwinian approach suggests that people who, by choice or accident, do not live in urban areas and did not attend college, are likely to be more conservative.
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January 14, 2016 in Culture, Focus Articles, Politics

What are the roles of scientists in policy-making?

To have an effect on a policy arena, a scientist has to become a member of an advocacy coalition. And these advocacy coalitions must carefully distinguish the roles of scientists…
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