David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):461-472 (2009)
William Dembski (No free lunch: why specified complexity cannot be purchased without intelligence, 2002) claimed that the NFL theorems from optimization theory render darwinian biological evolution impossible. Häggström (Biology and Philosophy 22:217–230, 2007) argued that the NFL theorems are not relevant for biological evolution at all, since the assumptions of the NFL theorems are not met. Although I agree with Häggström (Biology and Philosophy 22:217–230, 2007), in this article I argue that the NFL theorems should be interpreted as dealing with an extreme case within a much broader context. This broader context is in fact relevant for scientific research of certain evolutionary processes; not in the sense that the theorems can be used to draw conclusions about any intelligent design inference, but in the sense that it helps us to interpret computer simulations of evolutionary processes. As a result of this discussion, I will argue that from simulations, we do not learn much about how complexity arises in the universe. This position is in contrast with certain claims in the literature that I will discuss.
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