CFP: Cultural evolution, philosophy and the emotions

Submission deadline: December 31, 2012

Conference date(s):
May 28, 2013 - May 30, 2013

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven
Leuven, Belgium

Topic areas


The past decades have witnessed a proliferation of evolutionary theories on culture and cultural capacities. In general, evolutionary theories of culture have been rather well received in the philosophical literature. However, a number of important philosophical issues concerning this theory remain largely unsettled. This focused conference aims to address some of these issues by examining how gene-culture co-evolutionary theories can explain human emotions – a topic that has been of special importance for more narrow evolutionary approaches, such as evolutionary psychology.

Below are some of the kinds of questions that we hope will be discussed in the course of the conference. The list is not exhaustive, but should be read as a list of suggestions:

  1. What role do emotions play in cultural evolution?
  2. Which human emotions are socially transmitted?
  3. Which aspects of emotions are socially transmitted?
  4. Can gene-culture co-evolutionary theory offer a plausible account of culture-bound syndromes?
  5. How can cultural evolutionary theories contribute to a more profound evolutionary understanding of basic emotions?
  6. Why have emotions been neglected by cultural evolutionists?
  7. Do some cultural variants spread because they solve emotional problems?
  8. Is emotional contagion a key factor for human cooperation?
  9. Has shame/disgust/fear been culturally exapted to solve modern adaptive problems?
  10. Can gene-culture co-evolutionary theories bring us any closer to a unified theory of the emotions?

Information for submissions:

Send an abstract of c. 500 words to [email protected] before December 31, 2012. You will be notified of acceptance before January 22, 2013. Please note that this will be a pre-read conference, so there is also a final paper submission deadline on April 25, 2013. The final paper should not be longer than 7000 words. We are able, on certain conditions, to offset the costs of travel for a limited number of graduate students. Please check with the organizers if you are interested.


We intend to publish most of the papers presented at the conference in an edited volume or a special issue. We will aim high when looking for a publisher. Please note, however, that all papers will have to go through the usual process of peer review, and that the publication of your paper cannot be guaranteed.


Organizers are Andreas De Block, Pieter R. Adriaens and Helen De Cruz. The meeting is part of a research project about the historical and evolutionary roots of homophobia (‘Homophobia and cultural evolution: A Philosophical approach’), and is sponsored by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen), the Human Evolution and Behavior Network (HEBEN), and the Institute of Philosophy (HIW, University of Leuven).

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