This paper inquires into the very possibility of the units of selection debate’s origin in the problem of altruism, function in articulating the evolutionary synthesis, and philosophical status as a problem in clarifying what makes something a level or unit of selection. What makes the debate possible? In terms of origins, there are a number of logically possible ways to deviate from the model of Darwinian individual selection to explain evolved traits. In terms of function, adherence to the evolutionary synthesis (...) yields norms which restrict these possibilities to a manageable few. In terms of philosophical status, the abstract structure of selection mechanisms permits a causal construal, on which the unit of selection is identified with the “unit of possession”, that which possesses the causally efficacious trait selected for. It also allows a teleological interpretation, on which the unit of selection is identified with the “unit of benefit”, that for the sake of which the causally efficacious trait is selected. It is proposed that a unit of selection is really a pair of units, consisting of both a unit of possession and a unit of benefit. (shrink)
In "To Bet The Impossible Bet", HarmonHolcomb III argues: (i) that Pascal's wager is structurally incoherent; (ii) that if it were not thus incoherent, then it would be successful; and (iii) that my earlier critique of Pascal's wager in "On Rescher On Pascal's Wager" is vitiated by its reliance on "logicist" presuppositions. I deny all three claims. If Pascal's wager is "incoherent", this is only because of its invocation of infinite utilities. However, even if infinite utilities are (...) admissible, the wager is defeated by the "many gods" and "many wagers" objections. Moreover, these objections do not rely on mistaken "logicist" presuppositions: atheists and agnostics traditionally and typically hold that they have no more--or at any rate, hardly any more--reason to believe in the traditional Christian God than they have to believe in countless alternative deities. (shrink)
This paper argues that G.R.G. Mure’s use of ‘commensurate universal’ to translate ‘katholou’ is mistaken in An. Post. A24, and that throughout this chapter whenever the word ‘katholou’ appears it is to be translated ‘universal’ simpliciter. Establishing this requires a short commentary on Aristotle’s use of the word ‘katholou’, which apparently he coined, and used none too carefully.
For more than a century, it has been a standard ploy to argue against relativism on the grounds of self-referential incoherence (e.g., “if the relativists say that beliefs have no objective validity then that belief itself has none,” etc.). This paper determines the particular form this sort of charge takes when applied to a problematic passage in which Kuhn defends his relativistic theory of science by applying that theory to the debate between his critics and hirnself. If Kuhn were to (...) give up relativism with respect to facts and truth but retain it with respect to the strength of reasons, a pair of dilemmas charging circularity andinconsistency could be circumvented. (shrink)
A set of constraints forces trade-offs which prevent us from achieving the best possible definitions of the ‘level’ and ‘unit’ of natural selection. This set consists in decisions concerning conflicting pre-analytic intuitions in problematic cases, the relative roles of various conceptual resources in the definitions, which facts need to be accounted for using the definitions, how the relation between selection and evolution orients the definitions, and the relation between the level and unit concepts. Systematic reconstruction and evaluation of leading analyses (...) along these dimensions favors a new functional analysis over Williams’ consequentialist analysis, Sober’s causal analysis, and Dawkins’ teleological analysis. (shrink)
The DSM-III-R definition of mental disorder is inconsistent with the DSM-III-R definition of paraphilias. The former requires the suffering or increased risk of suffering some harm while the latter allows that deviance, by itself, is sufficient to classify a behavioral syndrome as a paraphilia. This inconsistency is particularly clear when examining the DSM-III-R account of a specific paraphilia, Transvestic Fetishism. The author defends the DSM-III-R definition of mental disorder and argues that the DSM-III-R definition of paraphilias should be changed. He (...) recommends that the diagnostic criteria for specific paraphilias, particularly that for Transvestic Fetishism, be changed to make them consistent with the DSM-III-R definition of mental disorder. Keywords: diagnoses, disease, paraphilia, philosophy, psychiatry CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The fundamental unit of assessment in the sociobiology debate is neither a field nor a theory, but a framework of group commitments. Recourse to the framework concept is motivated, in general, by post-Kuhnian philosophy of scientific change and, in particular, by the dispute between E. O. Wilson and R. C. Lewontin. The framework concept is explicated in terms of commitments about problems, domain, disciplinary relations, exemplars, and performance evaluations. One upshot is that debate over such charges as genetic determinism, reductionism, (...) adaptationism, and the biologization of human nature has been vexed. It has lost sight of human sociobiology's central problem, namely to help show that the modern synthesis is complete. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychology is a science in the making, working toward the goal of showing how psychological adaptation underlies much human behavior. The knee-jerk reaction that sociobiology is unscientific because it tells just-so stories has become a common charge against evolutionary psychology as well. My main positive thesis is that inference to the best explanation is a proper method for evolutionary analyses, and it supplies a new perspective on the issues raised in Schlinger's (1996) just-so story critique. My main negative thesis (...) is that, like many nonevolutionist critics, Schlinger's objections arise from misunderstandings of the evolutionary approach.Evolutionary psychology has progressed beyond telling just-so stories. It has found a host of ingenious special techniques to test hypotheses about the adaptive significance and proximate mechanisms of behavior. Naturalistic data using the comparative method combined with controlled tests using statistical analyses of data provide good evidence for a variety of hypotheses about behavioral control mechanisms — whether in nonhumans or in humans. For instance, the work of Gangestad and Thornhill on evolved mate preferences and fluctuating asymmetry of body type (FA) is a model of success. As the quantity and quality of evidence increase, we are entitled not just to regard such evolutionary hypotheses as preferable, but also as true. Such studies combine to show that the best explanation of the psychic unity of humankind — common patterns across societies, history, and cultures exposed by evolutionists — is the gendered, adapted, evolved species-typical design of the mind. (shrink)
Critics of evolutionary psychology object that it is not rigorous science compared to other evolutionary science. Advocates reply that it is rigorous science, and that the critics are uninformed. Still, informed people having opposing preconceptions of what counts as rigor may reach opposing evaluative conclusions. I shall clarify the very idea of rigorous evolutionary histories in relation to the basic objection that “evolution without history” is not rigorous.
The thesis that all learning has the character of enquiry is advanced and its implications are explored. R. G. Collingwood's account of ‘the logical priority of the question’ is explained and Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutical justification and development, particularly the rejection of the re-enactment thesis, is discussed. Educators are encouraged to consider the following implications of the character of the question implied in all learning: (i) that it is a question that is constituted in the event rather than prepared or given (...) in advance, and that this leads to a necessary tension between learning and the curriculum or scheme, (ii) that it is a question that concerns some subject matter or issue that is at stake for both the student and the object of study, which draws our attention to the ‘intentionality’ of learning, and (iii) that it is a question that operates on the level of being—students are ‘called into question’, and thus transformed, by the object of study. (shrink)