The marriage of Marx and Darwin? (Marvin Harris, Jared Diamond)

Recent attempts to develop scientific research strategies for cultural evolution have mostly drawn upon evolutionary biology, but within anthropology there is also an influential tradition of non-biological evolutionary thought whose basic principle is adaptation to the environment. This article is mainly concerned with the 'cultural materialist' school of Marvin Harris, but also treats the recent attempt of Jared Diamond to create a more radical model of evolutionary ecology. I argue that the ecological tradition does not represent a real alternative to neo-Darwinism and is in fact a pseudo-Darwinist theory. I also suggest that the bias in favor of materialistic explanation in cultural evolution may not be justified.