David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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|
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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 & Steven Jay Lynn (2009). Adaptive Misbeliefs Are Pervasive, but the Case for Positive Illusions is Weak. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (6):539-540.
David Sloan Wilson & Rick O'Gorman (2003). Emotions and Actions Associated with Norm-Breaking Events. Human Nature 14 (3):277-304.
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