Theories about the evolution of consciousness relate in an intimate way to theories about the distribution of consciousness, which range from the view that only human beings are conscious to the view that all matter is in some sense conscious. Broadly speaking, such theories can be classified into discontinuity theories and continuity theories. Discontinuity theories propose that consciousness emerged only when material forms reached a given stage of evolution, but propose different criteria for the stage at which this (...) occurred. Continuity theories argue that in some primal form, consciousness always accompanies matter and as matter evolved in form and complexity consciousness co-evolved, for example into the forms that we now recognise in human beings. Given our limited knowledge of the necessary and sufficient conditions for the presence of human consciousness in human brains, all options remain open. On balance however continuity theory appears to be more elegant than discontinuity theory. (shrink)
The study of phenotypic plasticity has progressed significantly over the past few decades. We have moved from variation for plasticity being considered as a nuisance in evolutionary studies to it being the primary target of investigations that use an array of methods, including quantitative and molecular genetics, as well as of several approaches that model the evolution of plastic responses. Here, I consider some of the major aspects of research on phenotypic plasticity, assessing where progress has been made and (...) where additional effort is required. I suggest that some areas of research, such the study of the quantitative genetic underpinning of plasticity, have been either settled in broad outline or superseded by new approaches and questions. Other issues, such as the costs of plasticity are currently at the forefront of research in this field, and are likely to be areas of major future development. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor argues that Darwin was wrong about "natural selection" because (1) it is only a tautology rather than a scientific law that can support counterfactuals ("If X had happened, Y would have happened") and because (2) only minds can select. Hence Darwin's analogy with "artificial selection" by animal breeders was misleading and evolutionary explanation is nothing but post-hoc historical narrative. I argue that Darwin was right on all counts. Until Darwin's "tautology," it had been believed that either (a) God (...) had created all organisms as they are, or (b) organisms had always been as they are. Darwin revealed instead that (c) organisms have heritable traits that evolved across time through random variation, with survival and reproduction in (changing) environments determining (mindlessly) which variants were successfully transmitted to the next generation. This not only provided the (true) alternative (c), but also the methodology for investigating which traits had been adaptive, how and why; it also led to the discovery of the genetic mechanism of the encoding, variation and evolution of heritable traits. Fodor also draws erroneous conclusions from the analogy between Darwinian evolution and Skinnerian reinforcement learning. Fodor’s skepticism about both evolution and learning may be motivated by an overgeneralization of Chomsky’s “poverty of the stimulus argument” -- from the origin of Universal Grammar (UG) to the origin of the “concepts” underlying word meaning, which, Fodor thinks, must be “endogenous,” rather than evolved or learned. (shrink)
In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Daniel Dennett claims that evolution is algorithmic. On Dennett’s analysis, evolutionary processes are trivially algorithmic because he assumes that all natural processes are algorithmic. I will argue that there are more robust ways to understand algorithmic processes that make the claim that evolution is algorithmic empirical and not conceptual. While laws of nature can be seen as compression algorithms of information about the world, it does not follow logically that they are implemented as algorithms (...) by physical processes. For that to be true, the processes have to be part of computational systems. The basic difference between mere simulation and real computing is having proper causal structure. I will show what kind of requirements this poses for natural evolutionary processes if they are to be computational. (shrink)
Joseph Henrich and Richard McElreath begin their survey of theories of cultural evolution with a striking historical example. They contrast the fate of the Bourke and Wills expedition — an attempt to explore some of the arid areas of inland Australia — with the routine survival of the local aboriginals in exactly the same area. That expedition ended in failure and death, despite the fact that it was well equipped, and despite the fact that those on the expedition were (...) tough and experienced. For survival in such areas depended on accumulated local knowledge. The locals had learned how detoxify seeds before making bread from them, and how to catch the local fish. Bourke and Wills and their companions lacked this local knowledge, and died as a result (Henrich and McElreath 2003). (shrink)
The cis-regulatory hypothesis is one of the most important claims of evolutionary developmental biology. In this paper I examine the theoretical argument for cis-regulatory evolution and its role within evolutionary theorizing. I show that, although the argument has some weaknesses, it acts as a useful example for the importance of current scientific debates for science education.
In the past 150 years there have been many attempts to draw parallels between cultural and biological evolution. Most of these attempts were flawed due to lack of knowledge and false ideas about evolution. In recent decades these shortcomings have been cleared away, thus triggering a renewed interest in the subject. This paper offers a critical survey of the main issues and arguments in that discussion. The paper starts with an explication of the Darwinian algorithm of evolution. (...) It is argued that this ‘formula’ is substrate-neutral, which means that biological evolution might not be the only Darwinian process. Other dynamic systems could evolve as well provided that certain conditions are met. In the case of human culture this seems to be the case. The paper then focuses on the notion of niche construction. It is argued that niche construction plays a crucial role in human evolution because it has altered the sources of natural selection and thus the path of evolution. Next two approaches to cultural evolution are discussed: sociobiology and memetics. I will argue that both approaches have flaws because they either underestimate the influence of culture or they stretch analogies too far. Finally two common objections against the idea of cultural evolution are addressed: Lamarckian inheritance and the issue of guided variation. I will argue that although cultural evolution differs from biological evolution in several respects, these discrepancies do not jeopardize the claim that cultural evolution is essentially Darwinian. (shrink)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) is one of the truly great philosophers of the modernist period, and there is currently a major renaissance of interest in his unduly neglected texts and ideas amongst philosophers, literary theorists, and social theorists. Creative Evolution (1907) is the text that made Bergson world-famous in his own lifetime; in it Bergson responds to the challenge presented to our habits of thought by modern evolutionary theory, and attempts to show that the theory of knowledge must have its (...) basis in a theory of life. (shrink)
The creation-evolution “controversy” has been with us for more than a century. Here I argue that merely teaching more science will probably not improve the situation; we need to understand the controversy as part of a broader problem with public acceptance of pseudoscience, and respond by teaching how science works as a method. Critical thinking is difficult to teach, but educators can rely on increasing evidence from neurobiology about how the brain learns, or fails to.
What we have learnt in the last six or seven decades about virtual machinery, as a result of a great deal of science and technology, enables us to offer Darwin a new defence against critics who argued that only physical form, not mental capabilities and consciousness could be products of evolution by natural selection. The defence compares the mental phenomena mentioned by Darwin’s opponents with contents of virtual machinery in computing systems. Objects, states, events, and processes in virtual machinery (...) which we have only recently learnt how to design and build, and could not even have been thought about in Darwin’s time, can interact with the physical machinery in which they are implemented, without being identical with their physical implementation, nor mere aggregates of physical structures and processes. The existence of various kinds of virtual machinery (including both “platform” virtual machines that can host other virtual machines, e.g. operating systems, and “application” virtual machines, e.g. spelling checkers, and computer games) depends on complex webs of causal connections involving hardware and software structures, events and processes, where the specification of such causal webs requires concepts that cannot be defined in terms of concepts of the physical sciences. That indefinability, plus the possibility of various kinds of self-monitoring within virtual machinery, seems to explain some of the allegedly mysterious and irreducible features of consciousness that motivated Darwin’s critics and also more recent philosophers criticising AI. There are consequences for philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and robotics. (shrink)
I present and apply some powerful tools for studying human evolution and the impact of cultural resources on it. The tools in question are a theory of niche construction and a theory about the evolutionary signiﬁcance of extragenetic (and, in particular, of psychological and social) inheritance. These tools are used to show how culturally transmitted resources can be recruited by development and become generatively entrenched. The case study is constituted by those culturally transmitted items that social psychologists call ‘expectancies’. (...) Expectancy effects are mindshaping effects of our mindreading dispositions. I show how expectancies may have been recruited by important human developmental processes (like those involved in language acquisition and those responsible for gender differences) and how they may have become entrenched. If the hypothesis is correct, the relation between mindreading and human evolution is more intricate than usually thought. (shrink)
In this controversial new book O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behavior in terms of evolution. He contends that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the human world. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines the nature (...) of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account of such distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in the Preface, "we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life.". (shrink)
Dubreuil (Biol Phil 25:53–73, 2010b , this journal) argues that modern-like cognitive abilities for inhibitory control and goal maintenance most likely evolved in Homo heidelbergensis , much before the evolution of oft-cited modern traits, such as symbolism and art. Dubreuil’s argument proceeds in two steps. First, he identifies two behavioral traits that are supposed to be indicative of the presence of a capacity for inhibition and goal maintenance: cooperative feeding and cooperative breeding. Next, he tries to show that these (...) behavioral traits most likely emerged in Homo heidelbergensis . In this paper, I show that neither of these steps are warranted in light of current scientific evidence, and thus, that the evolutionary background of human executive functions, such as inhibition and goal maintenance, remains obscure. Nonetheless, I suggest that cooperative breeding might mark a crucial step in the evolution of our species: its early emergence in Homo erectus might have favored a social intelligence that was required to get modernity really off the ground in Homo sapiens. (shrink)
In his The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin develops concepts of consciousness, the noosphere, and psychosocial evolution. This paper explores Teilhard’s evolutionary concepts as resonant with thinking in psychology and physics. It explores contributions from archetypal depth psychology, quantum physics, and neuroscience to elucidate relationships between mind and matter. Teilhard’s work can be seen as advancing this psychological lineage or psychogenesis. That is, the evolutionary emergence of matter in increasing complexity from sub-atomic particles to the human brain (...) and reflective consciousness leads to a noosphere evolving towards an Omega point. Teilhard’s central ideas provide intimations of a numinous principle implicit in cosmology and the discovery that in and through humanity evolution not only becomes conscious of itself but also directed and purposive. (shrink)
The synthetic theory of evolution has gone stale and an expanding or (re-)widening of it towards a new synthesis has been announced. This time, development and culture are supposed to join the synthesis bandwagon. In this article, I distinguish between four kinds of synthesis that are involved when we extend the evolutionary synthesis towards culture: the integration of fields, the heuristic generation of interfields, the expansion of validity, and the creation of a common frame of discourse or ‘big-picture’. These (...) kinds of synthesis are connected to epistemic values that are used to evaluate theories as well as analogies. A review of these epistemic values and the kinds of synthesis connected to them shall illustrate two points. First, that the discussions about culture and evolution exhibit an epistemic bias towards synthesis, even if, as history shows, synthesis and well as isolation can be fruitful epistemic strategies in science. The paper thus contains some critical notes on the value of synthesis in science. Second, reviewing the kinds of synthesis and values involved allows for a new perspective on the analogies involved in theories of cultural evolution. It is a perspective that makes the criteria with which these theories are usually evaluated explicit. With this we can compare the different standpoints people have taken on the usefulness of theories of cultural evolution at a higher level. Differences arise because of different epistemic values assumed. (shrink)
Lucretius' account of the origin of life, the origin of species, and human prehistory (first century BC) is the longest and most detailed account extant from the ancient world. It is a mechanistic theory that does away with the need for any divine design, and has been seen as a forerunner of Darwin's theory of evolution. This commentary seeks to locate Lucretius in both the ancient and modern contexts. The recent revival of creationism makes this study particularly relevant to (...) contemporary debate, and indeed, many of the central questions posed by creationists are those Lucretius attempts to answer. (shrink)
One way to understand science is as a selection process. David Hull, one of the dominant figures in contemporary philosophy of science, sets out in this volume a general analysis of this selection process that applies equally to biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, operant learning, and social and conceptual change in science. Hull aims to distinguish between those characteristics that are contingent features of selection and those that are essential. Science and Selection brings together (...) many of David Hull's most important essays on selection (some never before published) in one accessible volume. (shrink)
Creationists who object to evolution in the science curriculum of public schools often cite Jonathan Well’s book Icons of Evolution in their support (Wells 2000). In the third chapter of his book Wells claims that neither paleontological nor molecular evidence supports the thesis that the history of life is an evolutionary process of descent from preexisting ancestors. We argue that Wells inappropriately relies upon ambiguities inherent in the term ‘Darwinian’ and the phrase ‘Darwin’s theory’. Furthermore, he does not (...) accurately distinguish between the overwhelming evidence that supports the thesis of common descent and controversies that pertain to causal mechanisms such as natural selection. We also argue that Wells’ attempts to undermine the evidence in support of common descent are flawed and his characterization of the relevant data is misleading. In particular, his assessment of the ‘Cambrian explosion’ does not do justice to the fossil record. Nor do his selective references to debate about molecular and paleontological phylogenies constitute a case against common descent. We conclude that the fossil and molecular evidence is more than sufficient to warrant science educators to present common descent as a well-established scientific fact. We also argue that diagrams depicting the ‘tree of life’ can be pedagogically useful as simplified representations of the history of life. (shrink)
Evolutionary thinking has expanded in the last decades, spreading from its traditional stronghold - the explanation of speciation and adaptation in Biology - to new domains including the human sciences. The essays in this collection attest to the illuminating power of evolutionary thinking when applied to the understanding of the human mind. The contributors to Cognition, Evolution and Rationality use an evolutionary standpoint to approach the nature of the human mind, including both cognitive and behavioral functions. Cognitive science is (...) by its nature an interdisciplinary subject and the essays use a variety of disciplines including the Philosophy of Science, the Philosophy of Mind, Game Theory, Robotics and Computational Neuroanatomy to investigate the workings of the mind. The topics covered by the essays range from general methodological issues to long-standing philosophical problems such as how rational human beings actually are. This book will be of interest across a number of fields, including philosophy, evolutionary theory and cognitive science. (shrink)
Like everyone with a scientific bent of mind, Dennett thinks our capacity for meaningful language and states of mind is the product of evolution (Dennett [1987, ch. VIII]). But unlike many of this bent, he sees virtue in viewing evolution itself from the intentional stance. From this stance, ?Mother Nature?, or the process of evolution by natural selection, bestows intentionality upon us, hence we are not Unmeant Meaners. Thus, our intentionality is extrinsic, and Dennett dismisses the theories (...) of meaning of Dretske, Fodor, Burge, Putnam, and Kripke on the grounds that each requires that our mental states, unlike those of artifacts, have meaning intrinsically. I argue that we are Unmeant Meaners, incidentally defending Dretske et al., though my goal is to test the explanatory virtue of the intentional stance as applied to the evolution of intentionality. (shrink)
Today a change is imperative in approaching global problems: what is needed is not arm-twisting and power politics, but searching for ways of co-evolution in the complex social and geopolitical systems of the world. The modern theory of self-organization of complex systems provides us with an understanding of the possible forms of coexistence of heterogeneous social and geopolitical structures at different stages of development regarding the different paths of their sustainable co-evolutionary development. The theory argues that the evolutionary channel (...) to the observed increasing complexity is extremely narrow and only certain discrete spectra of relatively stable self-maintained structures are feasible in complex systems. There exists a restricted set of ways of assembling a complex evolutionary whole from diverse parts. The law of nonlinear synthesis of complex structures reads: the integration of structures in more complex ones occurs due to the establishment of a common tempo of their evolution. On the basis of the theory, we can see not only desirable but also attainable futures. (shrink)
In his best-selling The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light , William Irwin Thompson intrigued readers with his thoughts on mythology and sexuality. In his newest book, Coming Into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness , he takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of consciousness from the preverbal communications of early stone carvings, to the writings of Marcel Proust, around the monumental wrappings of Christo and up to the rebirth of interest in (...) the Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu. Owing as much to the rhythmic constructions of jazz as to established methods of scholarship, Thompson plays a riff on biology and culture seeing the birth of the mind in Proust’s Madeleine, the displacement of humanity in Christo’s wrapping of the Reichstag and, in Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching , the path forward to a new planetary culture. In Coming Into Being , William Irwin Thompson presents a fascinating vision of our past, our present, and our future that no one will want to miss. (shrink)
Classical evolutionary explanations of social behavior classify behaviors from their effects, not from their underlying mechanisms. Here lies a potential objection against the view that morality can be explained by such models, e.g. Trivers’reciprocal altruism. However, evolutionary theory reveals a growing interest in the evolution of psychological mechanisms and factors them in as selective forces. This opens up perspectives for evolutionary approaches to problems that have traditionally worried moral philosophers. Once the ability to mind-read is factored-in among the relevant (...) variables in the evolution of moral abilities and counted among the selection pressures that have plausibly shaped our nature as moral agents, an evolutionary approach can contribute, so I will argue, to the solution of a long-standing debate in moral philosophy and psychology concerning the basic motivation for moral behavior. (shrink)
Cosmides, Wason, and Johnson-Laird, among others, have suggested evidence that reasoning abilities tend to be domain specific, insofar as humans do not appear to acquire capacities for logical reasoning that are applicable across different contexts. Unfortunately, the significance of these findings depends upon the specific variety of logical reasoning under consideration. Indeed, there seem to be at least three grounds for doubting such conclusions, since: (1) tests of reasoning involving the use of material conditionals may not be appropriate for representing (...) ordinary thinking, especially when it concerns causal processes involving the use of causal conditionals instead; (2) tests of domain specificity may fail to acknowledge the crucial role fulfilled by rules of inference, such as modus ponens and modus tollens, which appear to be completely general across different contexts; and, (3) tests that focus exclusively upon deductive reasoning may misinterpret findings involving the use of inductive reasoning, which is of primary importance for human evolution. (shrink)
The idea of the élan vital is crucial for an understanding of Bergson’s metaphysical method, underpinning the way in which philosophy stands with other forms of creative activity as an endeavour of “self-overcoming,” the self or subject no longer being at the centre of thought, but understood rather as a product of the process of thinking. In placing a special emphasis on Bergson’s 1907 work, Creative Evolution, the present essay is both an acknowledgement and challenge to the shift from (...) early interpretations of Bergson in which comparisons were made with thinkers such as Schelling and Schopenhauer, to more recent engagements centred on the theories of perception and memory. The aim of this essay is to formulate a response to the marginalized status of Creative Evolution in the “perception-based” strands of Bergson scholarship, by emphasising how Bergson’s theories of memory and consciousness are a means for understanding his definition of evolutionary “creativity.” Bergson suggests that the analysis of consciousness or “will” can provide us with a way of thinking about this creative movement of life, which is not a concept of a “cause” or “origin” in the sense of a “state of nature” (substance, essence, or “being”), but rather the operation of pure tendency. (shrink)
No other scientific theory has had as tremendous an impact on our understanding of the world as Darwin's theory as outlined in his Origin of Species, yet from the very beginning the theory has been subject to controversy. The Evolution of Darwinism focuses on three issues of debate - the nature of selection, the nature and scope of adaptation, and the question of evolutionary progress. It traces the varying interpretations to which these issues were subjected from the beginning and (...) the fierce contemporary debates that still rage on and explores their implications for the greatest questions of all: Where we come from, who we are and where we might be heading. Written in a clear and non-technical style, this book will be of use as a textbook for students in the philosophy of science who need to become familiar with the background to the debates about evolution. (shrink)
In the middle period of the century of American thought with which our symposium is concerned, there was one idea which so far overshadowed all others that we may fairly confine our attention to it. That idea was evolution.
Scientific misconduct obstructs the advance of knowledge in science. Its impact in some disciplines is still poorly known, as is the frequency in which it is detected. Here, I examine how frequently editors of ecology and evolution journals detect scientist misconduct. On average, editors managed 0.114 allegations of misconduct per year. Editors considered 6 of 14 allegations (42.9%) to be true, but only in 2 cases were the authors declared guilty, the remaining being dropped for lack of proof. The (...) annual rate of allegations that were probably warranted was 0.053, although the rate of demonstrated misconduct was 0.018, while the rate of false or erroneous allegations was 0.024. Considering that several cases of misconduct are probably not reported, these findings suggest that editors detect less than one-third of all fraudulent papers. (shrink)
Cutting across boundaries of art and science, evolution is a fundamental process that has beguiled thinkers through the ages. This collection draws together world renowned thinkers and communicators with their own intriguing insights. In these essays they offer a feast of dazzling thoughts and ideas to challenge and enthrall the reader. Why and how do civilisations and societies change over time? Why do our cells develop the way they do? Why are some villages still villages while others have grown (...) into vast cities? Can we learn from our evolutionary past to plan a better future for our health and society? Tracing a line from the history of biological evolution, through the evolution of cultures, society, science and the universe, Evolution brings together intriguing parallels from all levels of life. From the evolution of the developing embryo to the evolution of a developing star, common threads develop into a fascinating story. (shrink)
The Discovery of Evolution explains what the theory of evolution is all about by providing a historical narrative of discovery. Some of the major puzzles that confront anyone studying living things are discussed and it details how these were solved from an evolutionary perspective. Beginning with the emergence of the early naturalists in the seventeenth century, the scientific discoveries that led up to and then flowed from Darwin and Wallace's theory of evolution by natural selection are then (...) discussed, and finally the modern evolutionary studies at the close of the twentieth century are detailed. This new edition of The Discovery of Evolution is fully updated and contains a new chapter on the evolutionary studies of the twentieth century. By approaching the topic of evolution in this way, it is made accessible to the non-specialist and no previous study of biology is required in order to read and understand this book. (shrink)
LEssOn OnE: What Is Evolution? OVERVIEW This lesson engages students in the concepts and processes of biological evolution. It also introduces the EVO DVD. The lesson begins by viewing Question 1 of the DVD, which introduces the World ...
The renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. As the pilgrimage progresses, we join with other organisms at the forty "rendezvous points" where we find a common ancestor. The band of pilgrims (...) swells into a vast crowd as we join first with other primates, then with other mammals, and so on back to the first primordial organism. Dawkins's brilliant, inventive approach allows us to view the connections between ourselves and all other life in a bracingly novel way. It also lets him shed bright new light on the most compelling aspects of evolutionary history and theory: sexual selection, speciation, convergent evolution, extinction, genetics, plate tectonics, geographical dispersal, and more. The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of life on Earth. Here Dawkins shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world. (shrink)
After stressing the shortcomings of Darwinian accounts of self-consciousness and knowledge - i.e. in terms of their survival value - Anthony O'Hear presents Peirce's metaphysical hypotheses on cosmic evolution as an alternative approach that avoids those shortcomings. Although O'Hear does not straightforwardly defend Peirce's views, his argument suggests that only some teleological account of self-consciousness and knowledge is reasonable. The argument, though correct, is not enough to establish the metaphysical point O'Hear defends. Before developing his metaphysical ideas, Peirce's rejection (...) of natural selection as an explanation for every phenomenon brought him to consider the more appropriate question of how natural selection could give rise to a different kind of evolution. This involved outlining an evolutionary account of the origin of self-consciousness and of the mechanisms of belief fixation. The point is not one about Peirce, of course, but about the relationship between, on the one hand, biological and, on the other, psychological and cultural phenomena. (shrink)
Phenotypic Evolution explicitly recognizes organisms as complex genetic-epigenetic systems developing in response to changing internal and external environments. As a key to a better understanding of how phenotypes evolve, the authors have developed a framework that centers on the concept of the Developmental Reaction Norm. This encompasses their views: (1) that organisms are better considered as integrated units than as disconnected parts (allometry and phenotypic integration); (2) that an understanding of ontogeny is vital for evaluating evolution of adult (...) forms (ontogenetic trajectories, epigenetics, and constraints); and (3) that environmental heterogeneity is ubiquitous and must be acknowledged for its pervasive role in phenotypic expression. (shrink)
Darwin's mockingbird -- Do species change? -- Does evolution make big changes? -- Design -- Peaks and valleys -- Islands in the 21st century -- Has there been enough time? -- Did humans evolve? -- Are we still evolving? -- Conclusions.
This remarkable book presents a rich and up-to-date view of evolution that explores the far-reaching implications of Darwin's theory and emphasizes the power, significance, and relevance of evolution to our lives today. After all, we ourselves are the product of evolution, and we can tackle many of our gravest challenges -- from lethal resurgence of antiobiotic-resistant diseases to the wave of extinctions that looms before us -- with a sound understanding of the science.
In a critical review of late twentieth-century gene-culture co-evolutionary models labelled as ‘global phylogeny’, the authors present evidence for the long legacy of co-evolutionary theories in European-based thinking, highlighting that (1) ideas of social and cultural evolution preceded the idea of biological evolution, (2) linguistics played a dominant role in the formation of a unified theory of human co-evolution, and (3) that co-evolutionary thinking was only possible due to perpetuated and renewed transdisciplinary reticulations between scholars of different (...) disciplines—especially within the integrative framework of the ‘humanid’ and the ‘hominid’ branches of anthropology. (shrink)
Recent studies now provide a relatively robust explanation of how moral behavior evolved, perhaps not just in humans. An analysis of current biology textbooks shows that they fail to address this critical topic fully. Here, I survey resources—books, images, and videos—that can guide educators in meeting the challenge of teaching the biology of morality.
Human evolution explains how we have found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Issues of modern living; depression, obesity, and environmental destruction, can be understood in relation to our evolutionary past. This book shows how an awareness of this past and its relation to the present can help limit their impact on the future.
What is the biological reason for gossip? For laughter? For the creation of art? Why do dogs have curly tails? What can microbes tell us about morality? These and many other questions are tackled by renowned evolutionist David Sloan Wilson in this witty and groundbreaking new book. With stories that entertain as much as they inform, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evolution and shows how, properly understood, they can illuminate the length and breadth of creation, from the origin (...) of life to the nature of religion. Now everyone can move beyond the sterile debates about creationism and intelligent design to share Darwin’s panoramic view of animal and human life, seamlessly connected to each other. Evolution, as Wilson explains, is not just about dinosaurs and human origins, but about why all species behave as they do—from beetles that devour their own young, to bees that function as a collective brain, to dogs that are smarter in some respects than our closest ape relatives. And basic evolutionary principles are also the foundation for humanity’s capacity for symbolic thought, culture, and morality. In example after example, Wilson sheds new light on Darwin’s grand theory and how it can be applied to daily life. By turns thoughtful, provocative, and daringly funny, Evolution for Everyone addresses some of the deepest philosophical and social issues of this or any age. In helping us come to a deeper understanding of human beings and our place in the world, it might also help us to improve that world. (shrink)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) is one of the truly great philosophers of the modernist period, and there is currently a major renaissance of interest in his unduly neglected texts and ideas amongst philosophers, literary theorists, and social theorists. Creative Evolution (1907) is the text that made Bergson world-famous in his own lifetime; in it Bergson responds to the challenge presented to our habits of thought by modern evolutionary theory, and attempts to show that the theory of knowledge must have its (...) basis in a theory of life. (shrink)
For evolution by natural selection to occur it is classically admitted that the three ingredients of variation, difference in fitness and heredity are necessary and sufficient. In this paper, I show using simple individual-based models, that evolution by natural selection can occur in populations of entities in which neither heredity nor reproduction are present. Furthermore, I demonstrate by complexifying these models that both reproduction and heredity are predictable Darwinian products (i.e. complex adaptations) of populations initially lacking these two (...) properties but in which new variation is introduced via mutations. Later on, I show that replicators are not necessary for evolution by natural selection, but rather the ultimate product of such processes of adaptation. Finally, I assess the value of these models in three relevant domains for Darwinian evolution. (shrink)
“I often said before starting, that I had no doubt I should frequently repent of the whole undertaking.” So wrote Charles Darwin aboard The Beagle , bound for the Galapagos Islands and what would arguably become the greatest and most controversial discovery in scientific history. But the theory of evolution did not spring full-blown from the head of Darwin. Since the dawn of humanity, priests, philosophers, and scientists have debated the origin and development of life on earth, and with (...) modern science, that debate shifted into high gear. In this lively, deeply erudite work, Pulitzer Prize–winning science historian Edward J. Larson takes us on a guided tour of Darwin’s “dangerous idea,” from its theoretical antecedents in the early nineteenth century to the brilliant breakthroughs of Darwin and Wallace, to Watson and Crick’s stunning discovery of the DNA double helix, and to the triumphant neo-Darwinian synthesis and rising sociobiology today. Along the way, Larson expertly places the scientific upheaval of evolution in cultural perspective: the social and philosophical earthquake that was the French Revolution; the development, in England, of a laissez-faire capitalism in tune with a Darwinian ethos of “survival of the fittest”; the emergence of Social Darwinism and the dark science of eugenics against a backdrop of industrial revolution; the American Christian backlash against evolutionism that culminated in the famous Scopes trial; and on to today’s world, where religious fundamentalists litigate for the right to teach “creation science” alongside evolution in U.S. public schools, even as the theory itself continues to evolve in new and surprising directions. Throughout, Larson trains his spotlight on the lives and careers of the scientists, explorers, and eccentrics whose collaborations and competitions have driven the theory of evolution forward. Here are portraits of Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Haeckel, Galton, Huxley, Mendel, Morgan, Fisher, Dobzhansky, Watson and Crick, W. D. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson, and many others. Celebrated as one of mankind’s crowning scientific achievements and reviled as a threat to our deepest values, the theory of evolution has utterly transformed our view of life, religion, origins, and the theory itself, and remains controversial, especially in the United States (where 90% of adults do not subscribe to the full Darwinian vision). Replete with fresh material and new insights, Evolution will educate and inform while taking readers on a fascinating journey of discovery. (shrink)
Introduction -- Defending a socio-biological account of morality -- Non-objectivist evolutionary ethics -- Recent objectivist approaches to evolutionary ethics -- Sketch of an Aristotelian evolutionary ethics -- Evolutionary biology and the moral status of animals -- Faith, reason, and evolutionary epistemology -- Psychological egoism and evolutionary biology -- Evolution and free will : darwinian non-naturalism defended -- Recent developments in philosophy of evolution.
The integral consciousness -- The internal universe -- The evolution of consciousness -- The within of things -- The systemic nature of evolution -- Stages of consciousness and culture -- The spiral of development -- Tribal consciousness -- Warrior consciousness -- Traditional consciousness -- Modernist consciousness -- Postmodern consciousness -- The spiral as a whole -- What is the real evidence for the spiral? -- The integral stage of consciousness -- Life conditions for integral consciousness -- The values (...) of integral consciousness -- Integral consciousness in the context of history -- Practicing the integral lifestylevalue metabolism -- Postintegral consciousness -- Integral politics -- The politics of the spiral -- Integral politics and global governance -- Is global governance an unrealistic fantasy? -- Is global governance too dangerouswhat are the safeguards? -- Global governance and integral consciousness cocreate each other -- Integral spirituality -- The development of spiritual traditions -- Public spirituality in the integral age -- Beauty, truth, and goodnessphilosophical spirituality -- The practice of beauty, truth, and goodness -- The revelation of evolution -- The founders of integral philosophy -- Ken Wilber in context -- The evolution of philosophy as a human endeavor -- Hegel, the first integral philosopher -- Bergson, the first post-darwinian integral philosopher -- Whitehead, spiritual philosopher for the ages -- Teilhard de Chardin, master of the internal universe -- Gebser, prophet of integral consciousness -- Developmental psychology and the mapping of the internal universe -- Habermas, architect of integral foundations -- Wilber, framer of integral philosophys twenty-first-century synthesis -- What I add to integral philosophy -- The integral reality frame -- Metaphysics and the evolution of reality frames -- The integral map of reality -- Integral philosophy and human spirituality -- Some critiques of the integral reality frame -- Structures of the human mind -- Lines of development recognized by psychologists -- Wilber's theory of the lines of development -- A critique of Wilber's theory of developmental lines -- An alternative theory of the structures of consciousness -- The self as a whole -- The directions of evolution -- Evolution and the idea of progress -- Unity, complexity, and consciousness -- Directions of evolution in the internal universe -- The dialectical quality of the master patterns of evolution -- Potential applications of a dialectical understanding of evolution. (shrink)
Brackets and tables, circles and maps, 1554-1872 -- Early botanical networks and trees, 1766-1815 -- The first evolutionary tree, 1786-1820 -- Diverse and unusual trees of the early nineteenth century, 1817-1834 -- The rule of five, 1819-1854 -- Pre-Darwinian branching diagrams, 1828-1858 -- Evolution and the trees of Charles Darwin, 1837-1868 -- The trees of Ernst Haeckel, 1866-1905 -- Post-Darwinian nonconformists, 1868-1896 -- More late-nineteenth-century trees, 1874-1897 -- Trees of the early twentieth century, 1901-1930 -- The trees of Alfred (...) Sherwood Romer, 1933-1966 -- Additional trees of the mid-twentieth century, 1931-1943 -- The trees of William King Gregory, 1938-1951 -- Hints of new approaches, 1954-1969 -- Phenograms and cladograms, 1958-1966 -- Early molecular trees, 1962-1987 -- Notable trees of the past four decades, 1970-2010 -- Primeval branches and universal trees of life, 1997-2010. (shrink)
Evolution: a closer look -- Forgotten truths -- Complexity-consciousness: law or myth? -- In search of creative union -- Omega hypothesis -- God of evolution -- Biblical fall and evolutionist ascent -- New Eschaton in historical perspective -- Socialization and super-organism -- New religion -- Teilhard de Chardin: biographical facts -- Riddle of Genesis 2.4-5.
In a tour de force of scholarship and vision, Ken Wilber traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind. In each case evolution has a "direction," a tendency to produce more highly organized patterns. The "spirit of evolution" lies in its directionality: order out of chaos. After arriving at the emergence of mind, Wilber traces the evolution of human consciousness through its major stages of development, pointing out that at each stage there is (...) the "dialectic of progress"--every increase in consciousness is bought at a price: new freedom also means new license to choose destruction. He particularly focuses on the rise of modernity and post-modernity--what they mean, how they relate to gender issues, to psychotherapy, to ecological concerns, and to various liberation movements. Most important, he asks: Can spiritual concerns be integrated with massive developments of the modern world? This edition is updated and includes a new introduction placing it in the context of the Collected Works. (shrink)
Theistic evolutionists often suggest that one can reconcile evolutionary theory with biblical teaching. But in fact Christians have accepted Darwinian theory only after reinterpreting the opening chapters of Genesis. Is such a reinterpretation justified? Within Western Christian thought, there exists a hermeneutical tradition that dates back to St Augustine and which offers guidelines regarding apparent conflicts between biblical teaching and natural philosophy (or “science”). These state that the literal meaning of the text may be abandoned only if the natural-philosophical conclusions (...) are established beyond doubt. But no large-scale scientific theory, such as Darwin’s, can claim this degree of certainty. It follows that to justify their reinterpretation of Genesis 1–3, Christians must either argue that the literal sense of the biblical text can be maintained or accept that the Augustinian view of biblical authority is untenable. Three alternative views are discussed: a first that attempts to limit the scope of biblical authority, a second that distinguishes between the Bible and the Word of God, and a third that abandons the idea that religious faith offers certain knowledge. While the third view seems the most defensible, it comes at a cost: the recognition that, as John Locke put it, “reason must be our last judge and guide in everything.”. (shrink)
Considering the close relation between language and theory of mind in development and their tight connection in social behavior, it is no big leap to claim that the two capacities have been related in evolution as well. But what is the exact relation between them? This paper attempts to clear a path toward an answer. I consider several possible relations between the two faculties, bring conceptual arguments and empirical evidence to bear on them, and end up arguing for a (...) version of co-evolution. To model this co-evolution, we must distinguish between different stages or levels of language and theory of mind, which fueled each other’s evolution in a protracted escalation process. (shrink)
I distinguish three evolutionary explanations of mental illness: first, breakdowns in evolved computational systems; second, evolved systems performing their evolutionary function in a novel environment; third, evolved personality structures. I concentrate on the second and third explanations, as these are distinctive of an evolutionary psychopathology, with progressively less credulity in the light of the empirical evidence. General morals are drawn for evolutionary psychiatry.
Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? The question of levels of selection - on which biologists and philosophers have long disagreed - is central to evolutionary theory and to the philosophy of biology. Samir Okasha's comprehensive analysis gives a clear account of the philosophical issues at stake in the current debate.
One problem faced in discussions of the evolution of intelligence is the need to get a precise fix on what is to be explained. Terms like "intelligence," "cognition" and "mind" do not have simple and agreed-upon meanings, and the differences between conceptions of intelligence have consequences for evolutionary explanation. I hope the papers in this volume will enable us to make progress on this problem. The present contribution is mostly focused on these basic and foundational issues, although the last (...) section of the paper will look at some specific models and programs of empirical work. (shrink)
This paper will outline a series of changes in the archaeological record related to Hominins. I argue that these changes underlie the emergence of the capacity for strategic thinking. The paper will start by examining the foundation of technical skills found in primates, and then work through various phases of the archaeological and paleontological record. I argue that the key driver for the development of strategic thinking was the need to expand range sizes and cope with increasingly heterogeneous environments.
Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct succeeds admirably in showing that it is possible to think about art from a biological point of view, and this is a significant achievement, given that resistance to the idea that cultural phenomena have biological underpinnings remains widespread in many academic disciplines. However, his account of the origins of our artistic impulses and the far-reaching conclusions he draws from that account are not persuasive. This article points out a number of problems: in particular, problems with (...) Dutton’s appeal to sexual selection, with his discussion of the adaptation/by-product distinction and its significance, and with drawing normative conclusions from evolutionary hypotheses. (shrink)
Here, in textbook style, is a concise biological account of the evolution of morality. It addresses morality on three levels: moral outcomes (behavioral genetics), moral motivation or intent (psychology and neurology), and moral systems (sociality). The rationale for teaching this material is addressed in Allchin (2009). Classroom resources (including accompanying images and video links) and a discussion of teaching strategies are provided online at: http://EvolutionOfMorality.net.
David Papineau presents a controversial view of human reason, portraying it as a normal part of the natural world, and drawing on the empirical sciences to illuminate its workings. In these six interconnected essays he discusses both theoretical and practical rationality, and shows how evolutionary theory, decision theory, and quantum mechanics offer fresh approaches to some long-standing problems.
The standard adaptationist explanation of the presence of a sensory mechanism in an organism--that it detects properties useful to the organism--cannot be given for color vision. This is because colors do not exist. After arguing for this latter claim, I consider, but reject, nonadaptationist explanations. I conclude by proposing an explanation of how color vision could have adaptive value even though it does not detect properties in the environment.
I examine John McDowell's attitude towards naturalism in general, and evolutionary theory in particular, by distinguishing between "transcendental descriptions" and "empirical explanations". With this distinction in view we can understand why McDowell holds that there is both continuity and discontinuity between humans qua rational animals and other animals -- there is continuity with regards to empirical explanations and discontinuity with regards to transcendental descriptions. The result of this examination is a clearer assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of McDowell's contribution (...) to philosophical naturalism. (shrink)
The comparison between biological and social macroevolution is a very important (though insufficiently studied) subject whose analysis renders new significant possibilities to comprehend the processes, trends, mechanisms, and peculiarities of each of the two types of macroevolution. Of course, there are a few rather important (and very understandable) differences between them; however, it appears possible to identify a number of fundamental similarities. One may single out at least three fundamental sets of factors determining those similarities. First of all, those similarities (...) stem from the fact that in both cases we are dealing with very complex non-equilibrium (but rather stable) systems whose principles of functioning and evolution are described by the General Systems' Theory, as well as by a number of cybernetic principles and laws. -/- Secondly, in both cases we do not deal with isolated systems; in both cases we deal with a complex interaction between systems of organic systems and external environment, whereas the reaction of systems to external challenges can be described in terms of certain general principles (that, however, express themselves rather differently within the biological reality, on the one hand, and within the social reality, on the other). -/- Thirdly, it is necessary to mention a direct ‘genetic’ link between the two types of macroevolution and their mutual influence. -/- It is important to emphasize that the very similarity of the principles and regularities of the two types of macroevolution does not imply their identity. Rather significant similarities are frequently accompanied by enormous differences. For example, genomes of the chimpanzees and the humans are very similar – with differences constituting just a few per cent; however, there are enormous differences with respect to intellectual and social differences of the chimpanzees and the humans hidden behind the apparently ‘insignificant’ difference between the two genomes. Thus, in certain respects it appears reasonable to consider the biological and social macroevolution as a single macroevolutionary process. This implies the necessity to comprehend the general laws and regularities that describe this process, though their manifestations may display significant variations depending on properties of a concrete evolving entity (biological, or social one). An important notion that may contribute to the improvement of the operationalization level as regards the comparison between the two types of macroevolution is the one that we suggested some time ago – the social aromorphosis (that was developed as a counterpart to the notion of biological aromorphosis well established within Russian evolutionary biology). We regard social aromorphosis as a rare qualitative macrochange that increases in a very significant way complexity, adaptability, and mutual influence of the social systems, that opens new possibilities for social macrodevelopment. In our paper we discuss a number of regularities that describe biological and social macroevolution and that employ the notions of social and biological aromorphosis such as ones of the module evolution (or the evolutionary ‘block assemblage’), ‘payment for arogenic progress’ etc. (shrink)
Recent work on the heat-shock protein Hsp90 by Rutherford and Lindquist (1998) has been included among the pieces of evidence taken to show the essential role of developmental processes in evolution; Hsp90 acts as a buffer against phenotypic variation, allowing genotypic variation to build. When the buffering capacity of Hsp90 is altered (e.g., in nature, by mutation or environmental stress), the genetic variation is "revealed," manifesting itself as phenotypic variation. This phenomenon raises questions about the genetic variation before and (...) after what I will call a "revelation event": Is it neutral, nearly neutral, or non-neutral (i.e., strongly deleterious or strongly advantageous)? Moreover, what kinds of evolutionary processes do we take to be at work? Rutherford and Lindquist (1998) focus on the implications of non-neutral variation and selection. Later work by Queitsch, Sangster, and Lindquist (2002) and Sangster, Lindquist, and Queitsch (2004) raises the possibility that Hsp90 buffering may play the role that was played by drift in Sewall Wright's shifting balance model, permitting transition from one adaptive peak to another. However, Ohta (2002) suggests that much of this variation may be nearly neutral, which in turn, would imply a strong role for drift as well as selection. The primary goal of this paper is to illuminate the alternative scenarios and the processes operating in each. At the end, I raise the possibility of a synthesis between evo-devo and nearly neutral evolution. (shrink)
This paper uses a number of examples of diverse types and functions of models in evolutionary biology to argue that the demarcation between theory and practice, or "theory model" and "data model," is often difficult to make. It is shown how both mathematical and laboratory models function as plausibility arguments, existence proofs, and refutations in the investigation of questions about the pattern and process of evolutionary history. I consider the consequences of this for the semantic approach to theories and theory (...) confirmation. The paper attempts to reconcile the insights of both critics and advocates of the semantic approach to theories. (shrink)