This paper rejects a view of science called "methodological naturalism." -/- According to many defenders of mainstream science and Darwinian evolution, anti-evolution critics--creationists and intelligent design proponents--are conceptually and epistemologically confusing science and religion, a supernatural view of world. These defenders of evolution contend that doing science requires adhering to a methodology that is strictly and essentially naturalistic: science is essentially committed to "methodological naturalism" and assumes that all the phenomena it investigates are entirely natural and consistent with the (...) laws of physics. Thus encountering any unexplained phenomenon, science assumes a priori that there is some natural cause and will only test a natural hypothesis. Since by definition supernatural causes are assumed to be not subject to the constraints of physical or natural law as understood by science, supernatural hypotheses and explanations must be banned from proper science. Science simply can't say that God did, or did not do it. -/- I argue that the success of science is directly relevant to rational belief in supernatural causes, and that in fact science can and does say in particular cases that "God didn't do it." I suggest that pro-evolution proponents can better defend science and the theory of evolution by rejecting methodological naturalism. -/- . (shrink)
Observations on the morphological and functional similarity between embryonic or trophoblast tissues and tumors are very old. Over a period of time many investigators have created different hypotheses on the origin of cancerogenesis or tumor efficiency in relation to the host immune system. Some of these ideas have been rejected but many of them are still current. A presumption of the inefficiency of anti-tumor immunity in mammals due to the high similarity between trophoblast and embryonic cells to tumor cells is (...) very real. The mechanisms for the escape of tumors from the immune response are very similar to the mechanisms for the escape of a fetoplacental unit from the maternal immune response. The similarity between these two mechanisms is so great that any randomness must be banished. At the same time, an incidence of malignant tumors and the types of more frequent tumors in non-mammalian vertebrates is significantly different to that in mammals. Lastly, the mechanisms of anti-tumor immunity in mammals are substantially different from the mechanisms of anti-tumor immunity in other classes of vertebrates. These facts indicate that the immune system of mammals during anti-tumor immune response is tricked by the similarity between tumor cells and trophoblast or other placental cells. From this aspect, our conclusion is that anti-tumor immunity failure in mammals can be defined as an immunoreproductive phenomenon, which is developed under the evolutionary pressure of autoimmunity and reproductive effectiveness. (shrink)
This is an unpublished talk written for a meeting of French philosophers. The paper describes the evolution versus creationism/intelligent design controversy in the U.S. A number of philosophers and scientists try to resolve this issue by sharply distinguishing the realm of science versus any talk of the supernatural. These pro-evolutionists often appeal to science's essential commitment to "methodological naturalism," the view that scientific methodology is essentially committed to naturalism and cannot meaningfully entertain hypotheses concerning the supernatural. I criticize methodological naturalism, (...) suggesting that such an appeal is misguided and counterproductive. I suggest an alternative view of the supernatural consistent with scientific knowledge. (shrink)
All eyes are turned towards genomic data and models as the source of knowledge about whether human races exist or not. Will genomic science make the final decision about whether racial realism (e.g., racial population naturalism) or anti-realism (e.g., racial skepticism) is correct? We think not. We believe that the results of even our best and most impressive genomic technologies underdetermine whether bio-genomic races exist, or not. First, different sub-disciplines of biology interested in population structure employ distinct concepts, aims, measures, (...) and models, producing cross-cutting categorizations of population subdivisions rather than a single, universal bio-genomic concept of “race.” Second, within each sub-discipline (e.g., conservation biology, phylogenetics), genomic results are consistent with, and map multiply to, racial realism and anti-realism. Indeed, racial ontologies are constructed conventionally, rather than discovered. We thus defend a /constructivist conventionalism/ about bio-genomic racial ontology. Choices and conventions must always be made in identifying particular kinds of groups. Political agendas, social programs, and moral questions premised on the existence of naturalistic race must accept that no scientifically grounded racial ontology is forthcoming, and adjust presumptions, practices, and projects accordingly. (shrink)
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)
In recent years the cognitive science community has witnessed the rise of a new, dynamical approach to cognition. This approach entails a framework in which cognition and behavior are taken to result from complex dynamical interactions between brain, body, and environment. The advent of the dynamical approach is grounded in a dissatisfaction with the classical computational view of cognition. A particularly strong claim has been that cognitive systems do not rely on internal representations and computations. Focusing on this claim, we (...) take as a starting point a question recently raised by Cliff and Noble: " if evolution did produce a design that used internal representations, how would we recognize it?" (Knowledge-based vision and simple visual machines, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 352 , 1165-1175, 1997). We will argue that cognitive science lacks a proper operationalization of the notion of representation, and therefore is unable to fruitfully discuss whether a particular system has representations or not. A basic method to detect representations in a physical system, grounded in isomorphism, turns out to be quite unconstrained. We will look at a practical example of this problem by examining the debate on whether or not van Gelder's (What might cognition be, if not computation? Journal of Philosophy, 92 , 345-381, 1995) controversial example of the Watt Governor is representational. We will conclude that cognitive science, as of yet, has no empirically applicable means to answer Cliff and Noble's question unequivocally. This makes the recent representationalism vs. anti-representationalism debate a debate for the sake of appearance. (shrink)
It has been claimed in several places that the new genetic technologies allow humanity to achieve in a generation or two what might take natural selection hundreds of millennia in respect of the elimination of certain diseases and an increase in traits such as intelligence. More radically, it has been suggested that those same technologies could be used to instil characteristics that we might reasonably expect never to appear due to natural selection alone. John Harris, a proponent of this genomic (...) optimism, claims in his book Enhancing Evolution that we not only have it in our power to enhance evolution, but that we also have a duty to do so. In this paper, I claim that Harris' hand is strong but that he overplays it nevertheless. He is correct to dismiss the arguments of the anti-enhancement lobby and correct to say that enhancement is permissible; but ‘good’ is different from ‘permissible’ and his argument for the goodness of enhancement is less convincing. Moreover, he is simply wrong to claim that it generates a duty to enhance. (shrink)
Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly “balanced” treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the book (...) focuses on a series of creationist fallacies (aimed at showing errors of thought, not at deriding) and of mistakes by scientists and science educators. The last part of the book discusses long-term solutions to the problem, from better science teaching at all levels to the necessity of widespread understanding of how the brain works and why people have difficulties with critical thinking. (shrink)
Beginning with the paradoxes of zombie twins, we present an argument that dualism is both true and false. We show that avoiding this contradiction is impossible. Our diagnosis is that consciousness itself engenders this contradiction by producing contradictory points of view. This result has a large effect on the realism/anti-realism debate, namely, it suggests that this debate is intractable, and furthermore, it explains why this debate is intractable. We close with some comments on what our results mean for metaphysics and (...) philosophy, in general. (shrink)
That believing truly as a matter of luck does not generally constitute knowing has become epistemic commonplace. Accounts of knowledge incorporating this anti-luck idea frequently rely on one or another of a safety or sensitivity condition. Sensitivity-based accounts of knowledge have a well-known problem with necessary truths, to wit, that any believed necessary truth trivially counts as knowledge on such accounts. In this paper, we argue that safety-based accounts similarly trivialize knowledge of necessary truths and that two ways of responding (...) to this problem for safety, issuing from work by Williamson and Pritchard, are of dubious success. (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)
I aim to clarify the relationship between the success of a theory and the truth of that theory. This has been a central issue in the debates between realists and anti-realists. Realists assume that success is a reliable indicator of truth, but the details about the respects in which success is a reliable indicator or test of truth have been largely left to our intuitions. Lewis (Synthese 129:371–380, 2001) provides a clear proposal of how success and truth might be connected, (...) comparing a test of success of our theories to medical tests with low rates of false positives and false negatives. But, contrary to what Lewis claims, I argue that it is not enough for the realist to undercut the claim that success is not a reliable indicator of truth. Rather, the realist must show that our current best theories are likely true. Further, I argue that tests in science are unlike medical tests in a number of important ways. (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)
A common perception of Spinoza casts him as one of the precursors, perhaps even founders, of modern humanism and Enlightenment thought. Given that in the twentieth century, humanism was commonly associated with the ideology of secularism and the politics of liberal democracies, and that Spinoza has been taken as voicing a “message of secularity” and as having provided “the psychology and ethics of a democratic soul” and “the decisive impulse to… modern republicanism which takes it bearings by the dignity of (...) every man,” it is easy to understand how this humanistic image developed. Spinoza’s deep interest in, and extensive discussion of, human nature may have contributed to the emergence of this image as well. In this paper, I will argue that this common perception of Spinoza is mistaken and that Spinoza was in fact the most radical anti-humanist among modern philosophers. Arguably, Spinoza rejects any notion of human dignity. He conceives of God’s - and not man’s - point of view as the only objective perspective through which one can know things adequately, and it is at least highly questionable whether he allows for any genuine notions of human autonomy or morality. The notions of ‘humanism’ and ‘anti-humanism’ have been discussed extensively -mainly among continental philosophers - since the end of World War II. Because these notions carry a variety of historical, ideological, and philosophical meanings, it is important to provide at the outset at least a rudimentary clarification of my use of these two terms. By ‘humanism’ I mean a view which (1) assigns a unique value to human beings among other things in nature, (2) stresses the primacy of the human perspective in understanding the nature of things, and (3) attempts to point out an essential property of humanity which justifies its elevated and unique status. This definition of philosophical humanism has only little in common with the historical notion of Renaissance humanism, and seems to match quite well the common understanding of philosophical humanism suggested by current philosophical dictionaries and encyclopedias. This notion of humanism should be understood in contrast to two competing positions. On the one hand, in contrast to the theocentric position that considers humanity to be radically dependent upon God, humanism affirms at least some degree of human independence. On the other hand, in contrast to the naturalist position which endorses the scientific examination of human beings just like any other objects in nature, humanists affirm the existence of a metaphysical and moral gulf between humanity and nature. This gulf assigns a special value to humanity and does not allow us to treat human beings like any other things in nature. For many humanists the nature/humanity gulf does not allow the application of the methods of natural sciences to the disciplines of the humanities. Humanism does not begin with modernity. In order to see how far back we can trace this position, we may recall Protagoras’ saying: “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.” In modern philosophy, the humanistic position had regained dominant status since the Renaissance, and variants of this position were vigorously argued for by prominent thinkers such as Pico della Mirandola, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, and finally, Hegel. In this paper, I will argue that Spinoza was a foe, and not a friend, of this tradition. I suggest that, in contrast to these humanist philosophers, Spinoza considers man as a marginal and limited being in nature, a being whose claims and presumptions far exceed its abilities. “To what length will the folly of the multitude not carry them?.... [T]hey imagine Nature to be so limited that they believe man to be his chief part.” Arguably, Spinoza locates the origin of our most fundamental metaphysical and ethical errors in a human hubris which not only tries to secure humanity an exceptional place in nature but also attempts to cast both God and nature in its own human image. (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor explores the German philosopher's response to the intellectual debates sparked by the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. By examining the abundance of biological metaphors in Nietzsche's writings, Gregory Moore questions his recent reputation as an eminently subversive and (post) modern thinker, and shows how deeply Nietzsche was immersed in late nineteenth-century debates on evolution, degeneration and race. The first part of the book provides a detailed study and new interpretation of Nietzsche's much disputed relationship (...) to Darwinism. Uniquely, Moore also considers the importance of Nietzsche's evolutionary perspective for the development of his moral and aesthetic philosophy. The second part analyzes key themes of Nietzsche's cultural criticism - his attack on the Judaeo-Christian tradition, his diagnosis of the nihilistic crisis afflicting modernity and his anti-Wagnerian polemics - against the background of fin-de-siècle fears about the imminent biological collapse of Western civilization. (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)
Healthcare counts as a morally relevant good whose distribution should neither be left to the free market nor be simply imposed by governmental decisions without further justification. This problem is particularly prevalent in the current boom of anti-ageing medicine. While the public demand for medical interventions which promise a longer, healthier and more active and attractive life has been increasing, public healthcare systems usually do not cover these products and services, thus leaving their allocation to the mechanisms of supply and (...) demand on the free market. This situation raises the question on which basis the underlying preferences for and claims to a longer, healthier life should be evaluated. What makes anti-ageing medicine eligible for public funding? In this article, we discuss the role of anti-ageing medicine with regard to the scope and limits of public healthcare. We will first briefly sketch the basic problem of justifying a particular healthcare scheme within the framework of a modern liberal democracy, focusing on the challenge anti-ageing interventions pose in this regard. In the next section, we will present and discuss three possible solutions to the problem, essentialistic, transcendental, and procedural strategies of defining the scope of public healthcare. We will suggest a procedural solution adopting essentialistic and transcendental elements and discuss its theoretical and practical implications with regard to anti-ageing medicine. (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)
“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)
In this paper, I argue that the negative injunctions against certain ways of conceiving of the ethico-political that we can draw explicitly from the methodological strictures of phenomenology are also consistent with some of the core more positive dimensions of contemporary virtue ethics (especially at the more anti-theoretical end of the virtue ethical spectrum), and that central aspects of virtue ethics are consistent with most of the explicit reflections on ethical matters proffered by canonical phenomenologists.
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.
Kant was the first great anti-Cartesian in epistemology and philosophy of mind. He criticised five central tenets of Cartesianism and developed sophisticated alternatives to them. His transcendental analysis of the necessary a priori conditions for the very possibility of self-conscious human experience invokes externalism about justification and proves externalism about mental content. Semantic concern with the unity of the proposition—required for propositionally structured awareness and self-awareness—is central to Kant’s account of the unity of any cognitive judgment. The perceptual ‘binding problem’ (...) is central to Kant’s account of the unity of the object in perception. This paper outlines Kant’s development and justification of his a rationalist account of our active intellect and its roles in perceptual consciousness and in rational judgment, including our consciousness of our rational freedom, all through a radically innovative transcendental inquiry into the necessary a priori conditions for us to be conscious at all. Kant’s anti-Cartesianism is a major philosophical breakthrough far surpassing contemporary anti-Cartesian efforts. It behoves us to give Kant his due and avail ourselves of his profound insights into the nature of human mindedness. (shrink)
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)
David Benatar argues that being brought into existence is always a net harm and never a benefit. I disagree. I argue that if you bring someone into existence who lives a life worth living (LWL), then you have not all things considered wronged her. Lives are worth living if they are high in various objective goods and low in objective bads. These lives constitute a net benefit. In contrast, lives worth avoiding (LWA) constitute a net harm. Lives worth avoiding are (...) net high in objective bads and low in objective goods. It is the prospect of a LWA that gives us good reason to not bring someone into existence. Happily, many lives are not worth avoiding. Contra Benatar, many are indeed worth living. Even if we grant Benatar his controversial asymmetry thesis, we have no reason to think that coming into existence is always a net harm. (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.