Marion Blute

Department of Sociology

University of Toronto

725 Spadina Ave

Toronto, ON Canada

M5S 2J4





YouTube video interview given at and posted by the International Summer School on Evolution, University of Lisbon, Portugal, Summer 2013.


Research Interests

Professor Blute's research interest is in theory, in particular evolutionary epistemology, generalized Darwinism or multi-process selection theory. The basic principle is that all knowledge acquiring and utilizing processes are selection processes. These include (gene-based) biological evolution by natural selection, (neural-based) individual learning by reinforcement and punishment, and (social learning-based) sociocultural evolution by sociocultural selection. She is also interested in how these processes interact including gene-culture coevolution and has particular interests in the philosophy and sociology of science/scholarship and genders.

She is a member of the Editorial Board of Biological Theory, of the Editorial Board of Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and an Associate of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. She is a past member of the council and past Chair of the Evolution, Biology and Society section of the American Sociological Association. She is a past member of the nominations, of the Marjorie Grene and Werner Callebaut Prize, and of the travel support committees of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology.

Her monograph on Darwinian Sociocultural Evolution: Solutions to Dilemmas in Cultural and Social Theory was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.


Other Publications (available on request)

With Fiona M. Jordan, “The evolutionary approach to history: Sociocultural phylogenetics” Chpt. 28, Pp. 621-640 in In Rosemary L. Hopcroft, Ed. The Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society, Oxford University Press, 2018.

“Three modes of evolution and drift: A new or an extended evolutionary synthesis?” Biological Theory 12(2) 2017: 67-71.

“Evolution and learning: A response to Watson and Szathmáry.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 31(12) 2016: 891-892.

“Density-dependent selection revisited: Mechanisms linking explanantia and explananda.” Biological Theory 11(2) 2016: 113-121.

“Modes of variation and their implications for an extended evolutionary synthesis.” Pp 59-75 in Jonathan H. Turner, Richard Machalek and Alexandra Maryanski, Eds. Handbook on Evolution and Society: Toward an Evolutionary Social Science. Paradigm Publishers, 2015.

“Review of James Tabery’s Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 36(3) 2015: 464-465.

“Hamilton: Heir of Darwin and Fisher?” A Review of Ullica Segerstrale’s Nature’s      Oracle: The Life and Work of W. D. Hamilton. Biological Theory 9(2) 2014: 229-231.

“ ‘Variation and selective retention’ as an evolutionary epistemology: Were Donald Campbell’s life histories sufficient?” Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution 59(2) 2013: 109-116.

“The evolutionary economics of science.” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 7(1) 2013: 62-68.

“The evolution of anisogamy: More questions than answers.” Biological Theory 7(1) 2013: 3-9. DOI 10:1007/s13752-012-0060-4.

“It isn’t true, it isn’t new, we knew it all along.” Review of Maria Kronfeldner, Darwinian Creativity and Memetics.” Metascience 12(2) 2012: 379-382.

 “Review of Lucio Vinicius, Modular Evolution: How Natural Selection Produces Biological Complexity.” Anthropos: International Review of Anthropology and Linguistics 107(1) 2012: 311-312.

“Condition-dependent Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity and Gene-Culture Coevolution.” Comment on Fincher and Thornhill, Parasite-stress promotes in-group assertive sociality: The cases of strong family ties and heightened religiosity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35(2) 2012: 81.

“Super Cooperators?”  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(12) 2011: 624-625.

With Paul Armstrong, “The Reinvention of Grand Theories of the Scientific/Scholarly Process.” Perspectives on Science 19(4) 2011: 391-425.

“Evolution’s First Law?” Review essay on D. W. McShea and R. N. Brandon, Biology’s First Law: The Tendency for Diversity and Complexity to Increase in Evolution.” Biological Theory 5(2) 2010: 194-197.

“Review of Martin Carrier, Don Howard and Janet Kourany (Ed’s.). “The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited.” The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32(4) 2010: 545-547.

With Paul Armstrong, “Reports of the Death of the Sociology of Science Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.” Canadian Review of Sociology 47(4) 2010:431-444.

“Review of W. G. Runciman, The Theory of Cultural and Social Selection.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Canadian Journal of Sociology 35(4) 2010: 645-647.

Dupré and O’Malley’s ‘Varieties of Living Things: Life at the Intersection of Lineages and Metabolism’.” Guest Blog Post, Jan. 16, 2010. Philosophy & Theory in Biology.

“Reflections on Trees of Knowledge.” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 3(1) Dec. 2009.

“Review of Myra J. Hird, The Origins of Sociable Life: Evolution After Science Studies.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 34(4) 2009. 1161-1164.

“Review of Kevin N. Laland and Bennett G. Galef, eds. The Question of Animal Culture.” Newsletter of the Evolution, Biology and Society Section, American Sociological Association, Fall 2009.

“Is it time for an updated ‘eco-evo-devo’ definition of evolution by natural selection?” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science. 2(1) 2008: 1-5.

“Concluding Statement: Some Issues That Might be Worth Discussing.” Open Semiotics Resource Centre, Virtual Symposium: Memory, Social Networks and Language: Probing the Meme Hypothesis II. May 2008.

“The Evolution of Replication.” Biological Theory 2(1) 2007:10-22.

“Cultural Ecology.” In D. M. Pearsall, ed. Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Academic Press, New York. 2008: 1059-1067.

“The Role of Memes in Cultural Evolution: Memes if Necessary but not Necessarily Memes.” Open Semiotics Resource Centre, Virtual Symposium. Imitation, Memory and Cultural Change: Probing the Meme Hypothesis. May 2007. Abstract and Video at

 “Review of Robert K. Merton & Elinor Barber, The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28(2) 2006: 291-292.

“Review of Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor’s Tale: A Journey to the Dawn of Life.” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 81(Dec. 2006): 394-395.

“Origins and the Eco-Evo-Devo Problem.” Biological Theory, 1(2) 2006: 116-118.

“The Evolutionary Socioecology of Gestural Communication.”Gesture. 6(2), Nov.- Dec., 2006: 177-188.

“Gene-Culture Coevolutionary Games.”  Social Forces, 85(1), September 2006: 151-166.

(With Saleema Saioud.) "Some Empirical Trends in Theory."  Perspectives, (Theory section of the American Sociological Association), 28(3) February 2006: 12-14.

“If the Genome Isn’t a God-like Ghost in the Machine, Then What Is It?” Biology and Philosophy, 20(2-3), 2005: 401-407.

Review of Gerhard Lenski, Ecological-Evolutionary Theory: Principles and Applications.” Canadian Journal of Sociology Online, September - October 2005.

“Memetics and Evolutionary Social Science.” Journal of Memetics, 9(1) 2005: 4 SsPp.

“Review of Alexander J. Field, Altruistically Inclined? The Behavioral Sciences, Evolutionary Theory, and the Origins of Reciprocity.” Canadian Journal of Sociology, 29(3) September 2004.

“The Evolutionary Ecology of Science.” Journal of Memetics, 7(1) 2003: 21SsPp.

“Review of Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature.” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 78(1) March 2003: 129-30.

“Remembering Lewis Feuer.” Sociology News, Dept. of Sociology, University of Toronto. Fall 2003.

“Review of Niklas Luhmann, Theories of Distinction: Redescribing the Descriptions of Modernity.” Edited with an introduction by William Rasch.” Canadian Journal of Sociology Online Nov. – Dec., 2002.

“Learning Theory and the Evolutionary Analogy.” 1979, 2002,  71pp. Cogprints.

“A Single-Process Learning Theory.”  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24(3) June, 2001: 529-31.

“Social Learning by Observation is Analogue, Instruction is Digital.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24(2) April 2001: 327.

“History Versus Science: The Evolutionary Solution.”  Canadian Journal of Sociology, 22(3) Summer 1997: 345-364.

“Review of John Maynard Smith & Eors Szathmáry, The Major Transitions in Evolution.” Politics and the Life Sciences, 15(2) September 1996: 347-9.

“Review of Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10(12) December 1995: 504-505.

“Biologists on Sociocultural Evolution: A Critical Analysis.” Sociological Theory, 5(2) Fall 1987: 185-93.

"Comment on Findlay & Lumsden, The Creative Mind:  Towards an Evolutionary Theory of Discovery and Innovation.”  Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 11(1) January 1988: 65-67. Reprinted in book of same title, Academic Press, 1988.

“Chapter I, What is Sociology?”  with James T. Teevan In W.E. Hewitt, J. White & J. J. Teevan (Eds.) Introduction to Sociology: A Canadian Focus. Pearson Education Canada., 2nd (1986) through 10th (2010) revised editions.

“The Sociobiology of Sex and Sexes Today.”  Current Anthropology, 25(2) 1984: 193-212.

"Selfish DNA and Differential Parental Investment: Some Implications for Sex Chromosomes.” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 102(4) 1983: 603-610.

“Review of Karen E. and Jeffrey M. Paige, The Politics of Reproductive Ritual.” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 57(3) September 1982: 361-362.

"Evolutionary and Ecological Processes in Marketing:  The Product Life Cycle.” in Ronald F. Bush and Shelby D. Hunt (eds.), Marketing Theory:  Philosophy of Science Perspectives. Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1982: 71-74.

"Learning, Social Learning, and Sociocultural Evolutionism:  A Comment on Langton.” American Journal of Sociology, 86(6) 1981: 1401-1406.

"Sociocultural Evolutionism:  An Untried Theory.” Behavioral Science, 24(1) 1979: 46-59.

Darwinian Analogues and the Naturalistic Explanation of Purposivism in Biology, Psychology and the Sociocultural Sciences.” Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, 1977.

"Review Symposium on Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology.” Contemporary Sociology, 5(6) November, 1976: 727-731.

“The Growth of Science and Economic Development.” American. Sociological Review, 37(4) August 1972: 455-464.

Last updated Oct 17, 2018.