David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 25 (2):245-277 (2012)
Evolutionary psychologists attempt to infer our evolved psychology from the selection pressures present in our ancestral environments. Their use of this inference strategy?often called ?adaptive thinking??is thought to be justified by way of appeal to a rather modest form of adaptationism, according to which the mind's adaptive complexity reveals it to be a product of selection. I argue, on the contrary, that the mind's being an adaptation is only a necessary and not a sufficient condition for the validity of adaptive thinking, and that evolutionary psychology's predictive project is in fact committed to an extremely strong and highly implausible form of adaptationism. According to this ?strong adaptationism,? the macroevolutionary trajectory of a population is determined by, and therefore predictable on the basis of, the selection pressures acting upon it. Not only is this form of adaptationism prima facie highly implausible, it requires making a number of naïve and likely false assumptions concerning the nature of heritable phenotypic variation in natural populations. In particular, it assumes that phenotypic variation is inevitably small in its extent, unbiased in its direction, and copious in its quantity. Because it is unlikely that these conditions obtain as a general rule, and even more unlikely that they obtained in early human populations, I conclude that there is little reason to believe that adaptive thinking can be used to infer the current structure of our minds from evidence of past selection pressures.
|Keywords||evolutionary psychology adaptationism modularity|
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References found in this work BETA
Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides & John Tooby (eds.) (1992). The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Oxford University Press.
Elliott Sober (1984/1993). The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus. University of Chicago Press.
Jerry A. Fodor (2000). The Mind Doesn't Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology. MIT Press.
David J. Buller (2005). Adapting Minds: Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature. MIT Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Lasse Gerrits & Peter Marks (2015). The Evolution of Wright’s Adaptive Field to Contemporary Interpretations and Uses of Fitness Landscapes in the Social Sciences. Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):459-479.
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