A replicator is simply something that makes copies of itself. There are hypothetical replicators (e.g., self-catalyzing chemical cycles) that are suspected to be unable to exhibit heritable variation. Variation in any of their constituent molecules would not lead them to produce offspring with those new variant molecules. Copying, such as in DNA replication or in xerox machines, allows any sequence to be remade and then sequence variations to be inherited. This distinction has been used against non-RNA-world hypotheses: without RNA replication (...)systems have no capacity to exhibit heritable variation. However, is copying the only way to have heritable variation? This article suggests that evolution can happen without anything being copied and that, in fact, RNA copying is too complex to arise spontaneously as the first pre-biotic system. There would then be a historical gradation of systems from non-alive to alive in which the capacity to have heritable changes would progressively increase and in which copying, as in template-based RNA-replication, would be a crucial but relatively late event. In addition, this article proposes a way by which RNA replication could have arisen, after systems able to evolve arose, as a crucial innovation and how that innovation spread over existing evolutionary systems and became a major driver of subsequent evolution. (shrink)
This paper evaluates and criticises the developmental systems conception of evolution and develops instead an extension of the gene's eye conception of evolution. We argue (i) Dawkin's attempt to segregate developmental and evolutionary issues about genes is unsatisfactory. On plausible views of development it is arbitrary to single out genes as the units of selection. (ii) The genotype does not carry information about the phenotype in any way that distinguishes the role of the genes in development from (...) that other factors. (iii) There is no simple and general causal criterion which distinguishes the role of genes in development and evolution. (iv) There is, however, an important sense in which genes but not every other developmental factor represent the phenotype. (v) The idea that genes represent features of the phenotype forces us to recognise that genes are not the only, or almost the only, replicators. Many mechanisms of replication are involved in both development and evolution. (vi) A conception of evolutionary history which recognises both genetic and non-genetic replicators, lineages of replicators and interactors has advantages over both the radical rejection of the replicator/interactor distinction and the conservative restriction of replication to genetic replication. (shrink)
This paper explores how an evolutionary process can produce systems that learn. A general framework for the evolution of learning is outlined, and is applied to the task of evolving mechanisms suitable for supervised learning in single-layer neural networks. Dynamic properties of a network’s information-processing capacity are encoded genetically, and these properties are subjected to selective pressure based on their success in producing adaptive behavior in diverse environments. As a result of selection and genetic recombination, various successful (...) learning mechanisms evolve, including the well-known delta rule. The effect of environmental diversity on the evolution of learning is investigated, and the role of different kinds of emergent phenomena in genetic and connectionist systems is discussed. (shrink)
In this short contribution we explore the historical roots of recent synthetic approaches in biology and try to assess their real potential, as well as identify future hurdles or the reasons behind some of the main difficulties they currently face. We suggest that part of these difficulties might not be just the result of our present lack of adequate technical skills or understanding, but could spring directly from the nature of the biological phenomenon itself. In particular, if life is conceived (...) as autonomy in open-ended evolution, which would help to explain the highly complex and dynamic organization of the simplest known organisms (i.e., genetically-instructed cellular metabolisms), external synthetic implementations of such systems, or interventions on them, are bound to interfere with some of their characteristic transformation processes, both at the ontogenetic and phylogenetic scales. In any case, this will prove very revealing and productive, technologically and scientifically speaking, since the knowledge gathered from those implementations/interventions will be extremely valuable in establishing our capacities and limitations to fully comprehend, utilize, and expand the living domain as we know it today. (shrink)
Developmental systems theory is an attempt to sum up the ideas of a research tradition in developmental psychobiology that goes back at least to Daniel Lehrman’s work in the 1950s. It yields a representation of evolution that is quite capable of accommodating the traditional themes of natural selection and also the new results that are emerging from evolutionary developmental biology. But it adds something else - a framework for thinking about development and evolution without the distorting dichotomization (...) of biological processes into gene and non-gene and the vestiges of the ‘black-boxing’ of developmental processes in the modern synthesis, such as the asymmetric use of the concept of information. Phenomena that are marginalized in current gene-centric conceptions, such as extra-genetic inheritance, niche construction and phenotypic plasticity are placed center stage. (shrink)
Owing to intensive development of the theory of self-organization of complex systems called also synergetics, profound changes in our notions of time occur. Whereas at the beginning of the 20th century, natural sciences, by picking up the general spirit of Einstein's theory of relativity, consider a geometrization as an ideal, i.e. try to represent time and force interactions through space and the changes of its properties, nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century, time turns to be in the (...) focus of attention. It turns to be possible to represent space through time, because synergetics shows that historical and evolutionary stages of development of a complex structure can be found now, in its present spatial configuration. A whole series of paradoxical notions, such as “the influence of the future upon the present”, a “possibility of touching of a rather remote future today”, “availability of the past and the future now, in praesenti”, “irreversibility and elements of reversibility in the course of evolutionary processes in time”, “discrete unites, quanta of time”, appear in synergetics. (shrink)
Organic selection (the Baldwin Effect) by which an environmentally elicitedphenotypic adaptation comes under genotypic control following selectionwas proposed independently in 1896 by the psychologists James Baldwinand Conwy Lloyd Morgan and by the paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn.Modified forms of organic selection were proposed as autonomization bySchmalhausen in 1938, as genetic assimilation by Waddington in 1942, andas an explanation for evolution in changing environments or for speciationby Matsuda and West-Eberhard in the 1980s. Organic selection as amechanism mediating proximate environmental effects (...) on the evolution ofmorphology and behaviour is the topic of this essay. Discussion includesthe context in which organic selection was proposed, Lamarckian or neo-Lamarckian implications of organic selection, Waddingtons experimentalstudies demonstrating the existence and efficacy of genetic assimilation,stabilizing selection and norms of reaction favoured by Schmalhausen, andMatsudas search for a mechanism of organic selection in endocrine changesand in heterochrony. (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)
The concept of innateness is used to make inferences between various better-understood properties, like developmental canalization, evolutionary adaptation, heritability, species-typicality, and so on (‘innateness-related properties’). This article uses a recently-developed account of the representational content carried by inheritance systems like the genome to explain why innateness-related properties cluster together, especially in non-human organisms. Although inferences between innateness-related properties are deductively invalid, and lead to false conclusions in many actual cases, where some aspect of a phenotypic trait develops in reliance (...) on a genetic representation it will tend, better than chance, to have many of the innateness-related properties. The account also shows why inferences between innateness-related properties sometimes fail and argues that such inferences are especially misleading when applied to human psychology and behaviour because human psychological development is especially reliant on non-genetic inherited representations. (shrink)
We propose a framework for analyzing the development, operation and failure to survive of all things, living, non-living or organized groupings. This framework is a sequence of developments that improve survival capability. Framework processes range from origination of any entity/system, to the development of increased survival capability and development of life-forms and organizations that use intelligence. This work deals with a series of developmental changes that arise from the uncovering of emergent properties. The framework is intended to be general, but (...) we see a potential to apply it to scientific topics such as the exploration of the origin of life or the search for life beyond Earth, and to understand some biological issues in evolution and symbiosis, and also to apply to social systems that do not seem to be operating well, to determine their problems and correct them. (shrink)
The paper explores the basis for decision?making and policy with regard to the Environment. Clearly these should be based on knowledge of possible consequences and accompanying risk assessments involving the linked behaviour of the many interacting human actors within a socio?economic system and the ecological, and physical systems in which they are embedded. The paper describes the Complex Systems approach to these problems, showing the kind of models that are required in order to obtain whatever limited knowledge is (...) possible about the co?evolution of the human and environmental systems involved. Several practical examples are described and the models briefly presented. These are shown as examples of what should be required for the creation of the necessary basis for making policy and decision explorations with an integrated view of the system as a whole, instead of separate parts studied in detail by experts of specific disciplines. This provides a framework for making real use of the ?knowledge? of disciplinary experts, and linking their narrow views to the overall, practical consequences in the real world of possible policy options. (shrink)
This article presents the genesis of Evolutionary Systems Design (ESD) as a praxis that draws on General Evolution Theory and Social Systems Design methodology, in addition to Critical Systems Theory, to engage in lifelong learning and human development in partnership with the Earth. The contributions of Bela H. Banathy to the creation of ESD are portrayed as bridging evolutionary consciousness and evolutionary action. Following a brief description of the inspiration and mentorship provided by Bela in this (...) regard, the roots of ESD are traced back to General Evolution Theory. It is described how notions of evolutionary stewardship grew out of encounters with Bela and his work at the International Systems Institute, and were given operational viability through the methodology of Social Systems Design he developed. The fundamental tenets of ESD are presented and discussed by way of a four-stage evolutionary learning framework. Finally, the vehicle of Evolutionary Learning Community through which ESD operates is shown to embody the potential for individuals and groups to think, live, and act in harmony with the dynamics of which they are a part as a means to guide the conscious creation of sustainability. (shrink)
The themes, problems and challenges of developmental systems theory as described in Cycles of Contingency are discussed. We argue in favor of a robust approach to philosophical and scientific problems of extended heredity and the integration of behavior, development, inheritance, and evolution. Problems with Sterelny's proposal to evaluate inheritance systems using his `Hoyle criteria' are discussed and critically evaluated. Additional support for a developmental systems perspective is sought in evolutionary studies of performance and behavior modulation of (...) fitness. (shrink)
To coordinate action, information must be transmitted, processed, and utilized to make decisions. Transmission of information requires the existence of a signaling system in which the signals that are exchanged are coordinated with the appropriate content. Signaling systems in nature range from quorum signaling in bacteria [Schauder and Bassler (2001), Kaiser (2004)], through the dance of the bees [Dyer and Seeley (1991)], birdcalls [Hailman, Ficken, and Ficken (1985), Gyger, Marler and Pickert (1987), Evans, Evans, and Marler (1994), Charrier (...) and Sturdy (2005)], and alarm calls in many species [Seyfarth and Cheney (1990), Green and Maegner (1998) ,Manser, Seyfarth and Cheney (2002)], up to human language. Information processing includes filtering – that is discarding irrelevant information and passing along what is important – and integration of multiple pieces of information. Integration includes logical inference and voting. Finally, the information must be used to make decisions with consequences for payoffs that drive evolution or learning. (shrink)
Locke & Bogin (L&B) suggest that theoretical principles of ontogenetic development apply to language evolution. If this is the case, then evolutionary theory should utilize epigenetic theories of development to theorize, model, and elucidate the evolution of language wherever possible. In this commentary, I evoke principles of dynamic systems theory to evaluate the evolutionary phenomena presented in the target article.
We extend previous work by modeling evolution of communication using a spatialized genetic algorithm which recombines strategies purely locally. Here cellular automata are used as a spatialized environment in which individuals gain points by capturing drifting food items and are 'harmed' if they fail to hide from migrating predators. Our individuals are capable of making one of two arbitrary sounds, heard only locally by their immediate neighbors. They can respond to sounds from their neighbors by opening their mouths (...) or by hiding. By opening their mouths in the presence of food they maximize gains; by hiding when a predator is present they minimize losses. We consider the result a 'natural' template for benefits from communication; unlike a range of other studies, it is here only the recipient of communicated information that immediately benefits. (shrink)
This article draws on analysis of a variety of problems emerging from practical applications of Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) to propose a fundamental evolution of decision support models from the traditional single decision-spine model to the decision-hedgehog. It positions decision making through the construction of narratives making the rhizome that constitutes the body of the hedgehog with the fundamental aim of enriching understanding of the contexts of decision making. Localized processes constructing and exploring prescriptions for action within (...) a plethora of decision spines are rooted in this rhizome. It identifies a synthesis of theories that influence decision making within organizations and proposes a comprehensive system of Group Decision Authoring and Communication Support (GDACS). In doing so it proposes that the iterative development of collective narrative within an organizing system engaged with complex decision making leads to active engagement with implementation - a process we call Collaborative Authoring of Outcomes. Throughout, the article outlines the implications for the organization of GDACS and proposes a comprehensive architecture that enables this approach. (shrink)
Many philosophers invoke the "wisdom of nature" in arguing for varying degrees of caution in the development and use of genetic enhancement technologies. Because they view natural selection as akin to a master engineer that creates functionally and morally optimal design, these authors tend to regard genetic intervention with suspicion. In Part II, we examine and ultimately reject the evolutionary assumptions that underlie the master engineer analogy (MEA). By highlighting the constraints on ordinary unassisted evolution, we show (...) how intentional genetic modification can overcome many of the natural impediments to the human good. Our contention is that genetic engineering offers a solution that is more eff icient, reliable, versatile, and morally palatable than the lumbering juggernaut of Darwinian evolution. In Part III, we evaluate a recent attempt to ground precautionary enhancement heuristics in adaptive etiology. Our problem with this approach is two-fold: first, it is based on the same "strong adaptationist" interpretation of evolution that motivates the flawed MEA, and second, the etiological concept of function on which it relies provides indirect and potentially misleading information about the likely consequences of genetic intervention. We offer instead enhancement criteria based on causal relationships in ontogeny. We conclude that rather than grounding a presumption against deliberate genetic modification, the causal structure of the living world gives us good moral reason to pursue it. (shrink)
Since the 1930’s, several attempts have been made to develop a general theory of technical systems or objects and their evolution: in France, Jacques Lafitte, André Leroi-Gourhan, Bertrand Gille, Yves Deforge, and Gilbert Simondon are the main representatives of this trend. In this paper, we focus on the work of Simondon: his analysis of technical progress is based on the hypothesis that technology has its own laws and that customer demand has no paramount influence upon the evolution (...) of technical systems. We first describe the process Simondon called “concretization” and compare it with the process of “idealization” as defined by Genrich Altshuller. We then explain how the progress of technical lineages can be characterized as following a specific rhythm of relaxation and how it thus obeys a “law” of evolution in the industrial context. Simondon’s theoretical approach, although similar to some aspects of methodologies of conception, emphasized a more accurate understanding of technical progress over possible operational applications. Simondon never intended to optimize the engineer’s tasks from an economic point of view and, in fact, his conception of technical progress can be considered as independent from the capitalistic trend of innovation. However, the philosophy of Simondon provides a better understanding of what is at stake theoretically in the modeling of laws of technical evolution. (shrink)
A novel conceptual framework is introduced for the Complexity Levels Theory in a Categorical Ontology of Space and Time. This conceptual and formal construction is intended for ontological studies of Emergent Biosystems, Super-complex Dynamics, Evolution and Human Consciousness. A claim is defended concerning the universal representation of an item’s essence in categorical terms. As an essential example, relational structures of living organisms are well represented by applying the important categorical concept of natural transformations to biomolecular reactions and relational structures (...) that emerge from the latter in living systems. Thus, several relational theories of living systems can be represented by natural transformations of organismic, relational structures. The ascent of man and other living organisms through adaptation, is viewed in novel categorical terms, such as variable biogroupoid representations of evolving species. Such precise but flexible evolutionary concepts will allow the further development of the unifying theme of local-to-global approaches to highly complex systems in order to represent novel patterns of relations that emerge in super- and ultra-complex systems in terms of compositions of local procedures. Solutions to such local-to-global problems in highly complex systems with ‘broken symmetry’ might be possible to be reached with the help of higher homotopy theorems in algebraic topology such as the generalized van Kampen theorems (HHvKT). Categories of many-valued, Łukasiewicz-Moisil (LM) logic algebras provide useful concepts for representing the intrinsic dynamic ‘asymmetry’ of genetic networks in organismic development and evolution, as well as to derive novel results for (non-commutative) Quantum Logics. Furthermore, as recently pointed out by Baianu and Poli (Theory and applications of ontology, vol 1. Springer, Berlin, in press), LM-logic algebras may also provide the appropriate framework for future developments of the ontological theory of levels with its complex/entangled/intertwined ramifications in psychology, sociology and ecology. As shown in the preceding two papers in this issue, a paradigm shift towards non-commutative, or non-Abelian, theories of highly complex dynamics—which is presently unfolding in physics, mathematics, life and cognitive sciences—may be implemented through realizations of higher dimensional algebras in neurosciences and psychology, as well as in human genomics, bioinformatics and interactomics. (shrink)
What role does non-genetic inheritance play in evolution? In recent work we have independently and collectively argued that the existence and scope of non-genetic inheritance systems, including epigenetic inheritance, niche construction/ecological inheritance, and cultural inheritance—alongside certain other theory revisions—necessitates an extension to the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis (MS) in the form of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES). However, this argument has been challenged on the grounds that non-genetic inheritance systems are exclusively proximate mechanisms that serve (...) the ultimate function of calibrating organisms to stochastic environments. In this paper we defend our claims, pointing out that critics of the EES (1) conflate non-genetic inheritance with early 20th-century notions of soft inheritance; (2) misunderstand the nature of the EES in relation to the MS; (3) confuse individual phenotypic plasticity with trans-generational non-genetic inheritance; (4) fail to address the extensive theoretical and empirical literature which shows that non-genetic inheritance can generate novel targets for selection, create new genetic equilibria that would not exist in the absence of non-genetic inheritance, and generate phenotypic variation that is independent of genetic variation; (5) artificially limit ultimate explanations for traits to gene-based selection, which is unsatisfactory for phenotypic traits that originate and spread via non-genetic inheritance systems; and (6) fail to provide an explanation for biological organization. We conclude by noting ways in which we feel that an overly gene-centric theory of evolution is hindering progress in biology and other sciences. (shrink)
Ernst Mayr proposed a distinction between “proximate”, mechanistic, and “ultimate”, evolutionary, causes of biological phenomena. This dichotomy has influenced the thinking of many biologists, but it is increasingly perceived as impeding modern studies of evolutionary processes, including study of “niche construction” in which organisms alter their environments in ways supportive of their evolutionary success. Some still find value for this dichotomy in its separation of answers to “how?” versus “why?”questions about evolution. But “why is A?” questions about evolution (...) necessarily take the form “how does A occur?”, so this separation is illusory. Moreover, the dichotomy distorts our view of evolutionary causality, in that, contra Mayr, the action of natural selection, driven by genotype-phenotype-environment interactions which constitute adaptations, is no less “proximate” than the biological mechanisms which are altered by naturally selected genetic variants. Mayr’s dichotomy thus needs replacement by more realistic, mechanistic views of evolution. From a mechanistic viewpoint, there is a continuum of adaptations from those evolving as responses to unchanging environmental pressures to those evolving as the capacity for niche construction, and intermediate stages of this can be identified. Some biologists postulate an association of “phenotypic plasticity” (phenotype-environment covariation with genotype held constant) with capacity for niche construction. Both “plasticity” and niche construction comprise wide ranges of adaptive mechanisms, often fully heritable and resulting from case-specific evolution. Association of “plasticity” with niche construction is most likely to arise in systems wherein capacity for complex learning and behavioral flexibility have already evolved. (shrink)
We demonstrate a method for optimizing desired functionality in real complex chemical systems, using a genetic algorithm. The chemical systems studied here are mixtures of amphiphiles, which spontaneously exhibit a complex variety of self-assembled molecular aggregations, and the property optimized is turbidity. We also experimentally resolve the fitness landscape in some hyper-planes through the space of possible amphiphile formulations, in order to assess the practicality of our optimization method. Our method shows clear and significant progress after testing (...) only 1 % of the possible amphiphile formulations. (shrink)
Recent theoretical work has identified a tightly-constrained sense in which genes carry representational content. Representational properties of the genome are founded in the transmission of DNA over phylogenetic time and its role in natural selection. However, genetic representation is not just relevant to questions of selection and evolution. This paper goes beyond existing treatments and argues for the heterodox view that information generated by a process of selection over phylogenetic time can be read in ontogenetic time, in the (...) course of individual development. Recent results in evolutionary biology, drawn both from modelling work, and from experimental and observational data, support a role for genetic representation in explaining individual ontogeny: both genetic representations and environmental information are read by the mechanisms of development, in an individual, so as to lead to adaptive phenotypes. Furthermore, in some cases there appears to have been selection between individuals that rely to different degrees on the two sources of information. Thus, the theory of representation in inheritance systems like the genome is much more than just a coherent reconstruction of information talk in biology. Genetic representation is a property with considerable explanatory utility. (shrink)
This paper offers an epistemological discussion of self-validating belief systems and the recurrence of ?epistemic defense mechanisms? and ?immunizing strategies? across widely different domains of knowledge. We challenge the idea that typical ?weird? belief systems are inherently fragile, and we argue that, instead, they exhibit a surprising degree of resilience in the face of adverse evidence and criticism. Borrowing from the psychological research on belief perseverance, rationalization and motivated reasoning, we argue that the human mind is particularly susceptible (...) to belief systems that are structurally self-validating. On this cognitive-psychological basis, we construct an epidemiology of beliefs, arguing that the apparent convenience of escape clauses and other defensive ?tactics? used by believers may well derive not from conscious deliberation on their part, but from more subtle mechanisms of cultural selection. (shrink)
Contrary to chimpanzees and bonobos, humans display long-term exclusive relationships between males and females. Probably all human cultures have some kind of marriage system, apparently designed to protect these exclusive relationships and the resulting offspring in a potentially sexual competitive environment. Different hypotheses about the origin of human pair-bonds are compared and it is shown how they may refer to different phases of human evolution.
Language and life history can be related functionally through the study of human ontogeny, thus usefully informing our understanding of several unique aspects of the evolution of species. The operational principles outlined by Locke & Bogin (L&B) demonstrate that the present can provide a useful framework for understanding the past.
We trace the history of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, and of genetic Darwinism generally, with a view to showing why, even in its current versions, it can no longer serve as a general framework for evolutionary theory. The main reason is empirical. Genetical Darwinism cannot accommodate the role of development (and of genes in development) in many evolutionary processes. We go on to discuss two conceptual issues: whether natural selection can be the “creative factor” in a new, more general (...) framework for evolutionary theorizing; and whether in such a framework organisms must be conceived as self-organizing systems embedded in self-organizing ecological systems. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The argument is put forward that genetic mutations are viable then only, when the changed pattern of growth and/or metabolism is accommodated by the taxon-specific biochemistry of the organisms, i.e. by adaptive, somatic/physiological plasticity. The range of somatic plasticity under changing environmental conditions, therefore, has a certain predictive value for the kind of mutations that are likely to be viable.
Many researchers have assumed that punishment evolved as a behavior-modification strategy, i.e. that it evolved because of the benefits resulting from the punishees modifying their behavior. In this article, however, we describe two alternative mechanisms for the evolution of punishment: punishment as a loss-cutting strategy (punishers avoid further exploitation by punishees) and punishment as a cost-imposing strategy (punishers impair the violator’s capacity to harm the punisher or its genetic relatives). Through reviewing many examples of punishment in a wide (...) range of taxa, we show that punishment is common among plant and animal species and that the two mechanisms we describe have often been important for the evolution of punishment. (shrink)
Functional information means an encoded network of functions in living organisms from molecular signaling pathways to an organism’s behavior. It is represented by two components: code and an interpretation system, which together form a self-sustaining semantic closure. Semantic closure allows some freedom between components because small variations of the code are still interpretable. The interpretation system consists of inference rules that control the correspondence between the code and the function (phenotype) and determines the shape of the fitness landscape. The utility (...) factor operates at multiple time scales: short-term selection drives evolution towards higher survival and reproduction rate within a given fitness landscape, and long-term selection favors those fitness landscapes that support adaptability and lead to evolutionary expansion of certain lineages. Inference rules make short-term selection possible by shaping the fitness landscape and defining possible directions of evolution, but they are under control of the long-term selection of lineages. Communication normally occurs within a set of agents with compatible interpretation systems, which I call communication system. Functional information cannot be directly transferred between communication systems with incompatible inference rules. Each biological species is a genetic communication system that carries unique functional information together with inference rules that determine evolutionary directions and constraints. This view of the relation between utility and inference can resolve the conflict between realism/positivism and pragmatism. Realism overemphasizes the role of inference in evolution of human knowledge because it assumes that logic is embedded in reality. Pragmatism substitutes usefulness for truth and therefore ignores the advantage of inference. The proposed concept of evolutionary pragmatism rejects the idea that logic is embedded in reality; instead, inference rules are constructed within each communication system to represent reality, and they evolve towards higher adaptability on a long time scale. (shrink)
This paper is about representations for Artificial Intelligence systems. All of the results described in it involve engineering the representation to make AI systems more effective. The main AI techniques studied here are varieties of search: path-finding in graphs, and probablilistic searching via simulated annealing and genetic algorithms. The main results are empirical findings about the granularity of representation in implementations of genetic algorithms. We conclude by proposing a new algorithm, called “Long-Term Evolution,” which is (...) a genetic algorithm running on an evolving problem description. We see this as modelling the evolution of a species from simpler (more coarsely described— fewer genes) types of organisms to more complex ones. The results, which are reported here of our experiments with the algorithm make it seem a promising optimisation technique. (shrink)
In their recent book, Elliott Sober and David Wilson (1998) argue that evolutionary biologists have wrongly regarded kinship as the exclusive means by which altruistic behavior can evolve, at the expense of other mechanisms. I argue that Sober and Wilson overlook certain genetical considerations which suggest that kinship is likely to be a more powerful means for generating complex altruistic adaptations than the alternative mechanisms they propose.
Abstract. Scientists have long puzzled over how homosexual orientation has evolved, given the assumed low relative fitness of homosexual individuals compared to heterosexual individuals. A number of theoretical models for the evolution of homosexuality have been postulated including balance polymorphism, "Fertile females", hypervariability of DNA sequences, kin selection, and "parental manipulation". In this paper, I propose a new group-selection model for the evolution of homosexuality which offers two advantages over existing models: (1) its non-assumption of genetic determinism, (...) and (2) its lack of dependency on an inefficient altruism relation and family dynamics theory. (shrink)
The essays in this collection examine developments in three fundamental biological disciplines--embryology, evolutionary biology, and genetics--in conflict with each other for much of the twentieth century. They consider key methodological problems and the difficulty of overcoming them. Richard Burian interweaves historical appreciation of the settings within which scientists work, substantial knowledge of the biological problems at stake and the methodological and philosophical issues faced in integrating biological knowledge drawn from disparate sources.
In a dynamic world, mechanisms allowing prediction of future situations can provide a selective advantage. We suggest that memory systems differ in the degree of flexibility they offer for anticipatory behavior and put forward a corresponding taxonomy of prospection. The adaptive advantage of any memory system can only lie in what it contributes for future survival. The most flexible is episodic memory, which we suggest is part of a more general faculty of mental time travel that allows us not (...) only to go back in time, but also to foresee, plan, and shape virtually any specific future event. We review comparative studies and find that, in spite of increased research in the area, there is as yet no convincing evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. We submit that mental time travel is not an encapsulated cognitive system, but instead comprises several subsidiary mechanisms. A theater metaphor serves as an analogy for the kind of mechanisms required for effective mental time travel. We propose that future research should consider these mechanisms in addition to direct evidence of future-directed action. We maintain that the emergence of mental time travel in evolution was a crucial step towards our current success. (shrink)
After sketching the historical development of “emergence” and noting several recent problems relating to “emergent properties”, this essay proposes that properties may be either “emergent” or “mergent” and either “intrinsic” or “extrinsic”. These two distinctions define four basic types of change: stagnation, permanence, flux, and evolution. To illustrate how emergence can operate in a purely logical system, the Geometry of Logic is introduced. This new method of analyzing conceptual systems involves the mapping of logical relations onto geometrical figures, (...) following either an analytic or a synthetic pattern (or both together). Evolution is portrayed as a form of discontinuous change characterized by emergent properties that take on an intrinsic quality with respect to the object(s) or proposition(s) involved. Causal leaps, not continuous development, characterize the evolution of human life in a developing foetus, of a thought out of certain brain states, of a new idea (or insight) out of ordinary thoughts, and of a great person out of a set of historical experiences. The tendency to assume that understanding evolutionary change requires a step-by-step explanation of the historical development that led to the appearance of a certain emergent property is thereby discredited. (shrink)
Most cognitive scientists nowadays tend to think that at least some of the mind’s capacities are the product of biological evolution, yet important conceptual problems remain for all of them in order to be able to speak coherently of mental or cognitive systems as having evolved naturally. Two of these important problems concern the articulation of adequate, interesting and empirically useful concepts of homology and variation as applied to cognitive systems. However, systems in cognitive science are (...) usually understood as functional systems of some sort. Thus, talking about functional systems’ being homologous requires one’s having a solid, adequate and empirically articulated concept of functional homology—and the same is true of functional variation. Here I construct an original concept of functional homology that, in my view, adequately systematizes a number of the actual uses of the word ‘functional homology’ in a variety of biological disciplines and in ethology. I also propose a number of criteria for the empirical application of the concept that are analogous to the criteria that are actually used in comparative biology, ethology, and (possibly) molecular developmental genetics. Then I construct a concept of functional variation on the basis of this concept of homology. (shrink)
Philosophers spend a lot of time worrying about rules. We worry about how one ought to live, about the rules of justification for beliefs and actions, about what it would be like if the rules of reason were rigorously followed, about what the rules are for scientific enquiry, about which rules govern the meaning of signs and the intentions of agents, and so on. Sometimes, we argue that there are no such rules as most of us want to believe there (...) are, rules which apply to all of us collectively and to each of us individually, which are beyond our ability to change, and whose violation is in some simple sense wrong. To this we often respond that without such rules we are all made somehow less, that our normative deliberations are a sham, or even that the whole business of living becomes somehow pointless. (shrink)