David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):541-554 (1998)
I criticize Herbert Simon's argument for the claim that complex natural systems must constitute decomposable, mereological or functional hierarchies. The argument depends on certain assumptions about the requirements for the successful evolution of complex systems, most importantly, the existence of stable, intermediate stages in evolution. Simon offers an abstract model of any process that succeeds in meeting these requirements. This model necessarily involves construction through a decomposable hierarchy, and thus suggests that any complex, natural, i.e., evolved, system is constituted by a decomposable hierarchy. I argue that Stuart Kauffman's recent models of genetic regulatory networks succeed in specifying processes that could meet Simon's requirements for evolvability without requiring construction through a decomposable hierarchy. Since Kauffman's models are at least as plausible as Simon's model, Simon's argument that complex natural systems must constitute decomposable, mereological or functional hierarchies does not succeed.
|Keywords||complex natural system stability evolvability decomposable hierarchy genetic network Random NK Boolean Network|
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