The power of natural selection

Some naturalistic theories of consciousness give an essential role to teleology.1 This teleology is said to arise due to natural selection. Thus it is claimed that only certain states, namely, those that have been selected for by evolutionary pro- cesses because they contribute to (or once contributed to) an organism’s fitness, are conscious states. These theories look as if they are assigning a creative role to natural selection. If a state is conscious only if it has been selected for, then selec- tion appears to be able to create a new feature of states, namely, their conscious nature. Yet, intuitively, natural selection cannot create anything. Natural selec- tion chooses certain features that already exist and makes them more (or less) prevalent in a population, but it cannot bring features into existence itself. Natu- ral selection can select for conscious states, but it cannot create them. This con- clusion has recently been argued for by Steven Horst (1999). If it is right, then teleological theories of conscious states should be rejected. A state cannot become a conscious experience in virtue of having been selected for by evolu- tionary process
Keywords Consciousness  Metaphysics  Natural Selection  Dretske, F  Horst, S
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