On the Relationship Between Memes and Genes: A Critique of Dennett

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Abstract

Dennett (1995) argues that memes or cultural replicators are largely autonomous of genes, and that they are fairly efficacious in determining who we are and what we do. I argue that Dennett's arguments are wrong in several aspects, which we can see by analyzing processes at appropriate levels. Specifically, I argue that it is not true that we as persons are created largely by memes, that our memes are not largely independent of our genes, and that we can use the universality of memes to make inferences about genetic predispositions. Finally, by suggesting an innate psychological mechanism for morality, I argue that morality may be largely the effect of genetic predispositions rather than autonomous.

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