David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 5 (1):37-62 (1990)
The primary outcome of natural selection is adaptation to an environment. The primary concern of epistemology is the acquistion of knowledge. Evolutionary epistemology must therefore draw a fundamental connection between adaptation and knowledge. Existing frameworks in evolutionary epistemology do this in two ways; (a) by treating adaptation as a form of knowledge, and (b) by treating the ability to acquire knowledge as a biologically evolved adaptation. I criticize both frameworks for failing to appreciate that mental representations can motivate behaviors that are adaptive in the real world without themselves directly corresponding to the real world. I suggest a third framework in which mental representations are to reality as species are to ecosystems. This is a many-to-one relationship that predicts a diversity of adaptive representations in the minds of interacting people. As “species of thought”, mental representations share a number of properties with biological species, including isolating mechanisms that prevent them from blending with other representations. Species of thought also are amenable to the empirical methods that evolutionists use to study adaptation in biological species. Empirical studies of mental representations in everyday life might even be necessary for science to succeed as a normative “truth-seeking” discipline.
|Keywords||Evolutionary epistemology mental representations adaptation|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
W. V. Quine (1969). Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. Columbia University Press.
Karl R. Popper (1972). Objective Knowledge. Oxford,Clarendon Press.
H. C. Plotkin & F. J. Odling-Smee (1981). A Multiple-Level Model of Evolution and its Implications for Sociobiology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (2):225.
Citations of this work BETA
Heather Dyke (2011). The Evolutionary Origins of Tensed Language and Belief. Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):401-418.
David Sloan Wilson (1995). Language as a Community of Interacting Belief Systems: A Case Study Involving Conduct Toward Self and Others. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 10 (1):77-97.
David Sloan Wilson, Steven C. Hayes, Anthony Biglan & Dennis D. Embry (2014). Evolving the Future: Toward a Science of Intentional Change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (4):395-416.
David Sloan Wilson & Rick O'Gorman (2003). Emotions and Actions Associated with Norm-Breaking Events. Human Nature 14 (3):277-304.
David Sloan Wilson & Steven Jay Lynn (2009). Adaptive Misbeliefs Are Pervasive, but the Case for Positive Illusions is Weak. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):539-540.
Similar books and articles
Hugh Lehman (1967). Are Biological Species Real? Philosophy of Science 34 (2):157-167.
Stephen R. Grimm (2006). Is Understanding a Species of Knowledge? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):515-535.
Ernst Mayr (1988). The Why and How of Species. Biology and Philosophy 3 (4):431-441.
Bradley E. Wilson (1996). Changing Conceptions of Species. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):405-420.
David L. Hull (1980). On Human Nature. Environmental Ethics 2 (1):81-88.
Mark Ridley (1989). The Cladistic Solution to the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16.
David B. Kitts & David J. Kitts (1979). Biological Species as Natural Kinds. Philosophy of Science 46 (4):613-622.
Joel D. Velasco (2008). Species Concepts Should Not Conflict with Evolutionary History, but Often Do. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (4):407-414.
Joel Cracraft (1987). Species Concepts and the Ontology of Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 2 (3):329-346.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads42 ( #80,232 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?