Chapter 10. The other middle-range theories

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Archaeologists have long been aware of the need to make explicit the middle-range theories that they use to bridge the gap between raw archaeological evidence and human behaviour. In this paper, I discuss the difficulties in proposing such theories when dealing with long-extinct hominin populations, among which significant biological differences may have existed. I emphasize how far we remain from a general theory that would link genetic, neural, cognitive, and behavioural evolution, and how difficult it is to go beyond trivial explanations of the evolution of the human mind and behaviour. I argue that students of human cognitive evolution should move away from general mental phenomena, which they have focused on in recent years, and turn their attention to increasingly precise cognitive mechanisms realized in specific neural structures.


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