Evolutionary epistemology as an overlapping, interlevel theory

Biology and Philosophy 8 (2):173-192 (1993)
I examine the branch of evolutionary epistemology which tries to account for the character of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans by extending the biological theory of evolution to the neurophysiological substrates of cognition. Like Plotkin, I construe this branch as a struggling science, and attempt to characterize the sort of theory one might expect to find this truly interdisciplinary endeavor, an endeavor which encompasses not only evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, and developmental neuroscience, but also and especially, the computational modeling of artificial life programming; I suggest that extending Schaffner''s notion of interlevel theories to include both horizontal and vertical levels of abstraction best fits the theories currently being developed in cognitive science. Finally, I support this claim with examples drawn from computational modeling data using the genetic algorithm.
Keywords Artificial life programming  connectionism  evolutionary epistemology  genetic algorithm  interlevel theories
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DOI 10.1007/BF00850481
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