There are two interrelated but distinct programs which go by the name evolutionary epistemology. One attempts to account for the characteristics of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans by a straightforward extension of the biological theory of evolution to those aspects or traits of animals which are the biological substrates of cognitive activity, e.g., their brains, sensory systems, motor systems, etc. (EEM program). The other program attempts to account for the evaluation of ideas, scientific theories and culture in general by (...) using models and metaphors drawn from evolutionary biology (EET program). The paper begins by distinguishing the two programs and discussing the relationship between them. The next section addresses the metaphorical and analogical relationship between evolutionary epistemology and evolutionary biology. Section IV treats the question of the locus of the epistemological problem in the light of an evolutionary analysis. The key questions here involve the relationship between evolutionary epistemology and traditional epistemology and the legitimacy of evolutionary epistemology as epistemology. Section V examines the underlying ontological presuppositions and implications of evolutionary epistemology. Finally, section VI, which is merely the sketch of a problem, addresses the parallel between evolutionary epistemology and evolutionary ethics. (shrink)
Michael Bradie challenges the assumption, common among sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists, that it is to science, not philosophy, that we must look if we wish to answer the fundamental questions of ethics.
The compatibility of Darwinism with religious beliefs has been the subject of vigorous debate from 1859 to the present day. Darwin himself did not think that there was any incompatibility between his theory of natural selection and the existence of God. However, he did not think that appeals to the direct or indirect activity of a Creator substantially increased our understanding of any natural phenomenon. In effect, Darwin endorsed what we would today label as ’methodological naturalism,’ roughly the view that (...) the only legitimate elements of the explanation of natural phenomena must appeal only to natural processes, natural laws and natural regularities. In section 2, Darwin’s commitment to methodological Darwinism is documented. Section 3 addresses the question of whether methodological naturalism does or does not rule out belief in a divine Creator. Section 4 raises the question of whether methodological naturalists are also metaphysical naturalists. Finally, section 5 assesses the. (shrink)
Harold Kincaid's 'Individualism and the Unity of Science' is a subtle and nuanced analysis of the interlocking themes and issues surrounding the struggle between 'holists' and 'individualists' in the social sciences. Two major claims, one substantial and one methodological, emerge from this analysis. The substantial claim is a defence of a 'non-reductive unity' of the sciences. The methodological claim is that the disputes between reductionists and pluralists or between individualists and holists are empirical and not conceptual disputes. In this paper, (...) I focus on what I take to be Kincaid's central theses. (shrink)
The paper reviews the arguments for and against a number of criteria for event identity. The proliferation of such criteria in the 1970’s raises the question of how one is to choose between them. Eight adequacy conditions, whose own adequacy has been argued for elsewhere, are determined to be insufticient for deciding among the criteria. Some concluding remarks about the role of the adequacy conditions and the problem of choosing a criterion are offered. Finally, questions about the nature of and (...) role of an identity criterion are raised. (shrink)
Wesley Salmon defends an ontic realism that distinguishes explanatory from descriptive knowledge. Explanatory knowledge makes appeals to (unobservable) theoretical acausal mechanisms. Salmon presents an argument designed both to legitimize attributing truth values to theoretical claims and to justify treating theoretical claims as descriptions. The argument succeeds but only at the price of calling the distinction between explanation and description into question. Even if Salmon's attempts to distinguish causal mechanisms from other mechanisms are successful, the assumed centrality of the appeal to (...) such mechanisms in providing scientific explanations is left open by Salmon's account. (shrink)
Palmer argues that functionalist accounts of the mind are radically incomplete in virtue of a “metaphorical brick wall” that precludes a complete treatment of qualia. I argue that functionalists should remain unmoved by this line of argument to the effect that their accounts fail to do justice to some “intrinsic” features of experience.
Metaphors have three important functions in scientific discourse: heuristic, rhetorical, and epistemic. I argue that, contrary to prevailing opinion, metaphors are indispensable components of scientific methodology as well as scientific communication. Insofar as the choice of metaphors reflects ideological commitments, all science is ideological. The philosophically vexed question is how to characterize the sense in which science is not merely ideological.
In this article Ayer's criticisms of Russell's defense of scientific realism and his criticisms of Russell's rejection of naive realism are discussed. It is argued that Ayer's criticisms either lack force or depend for their validity on the assumption of existence of a clear cut distinction between conventional and factual issues, an assumption which is question begging with respect to his discussion of Russell.
From 1914 on Russell's epistemology was dominated by the attempt to show how we come by our knowledge of the external world. As he gradually became aware of the inadequacies of the "pure empiricist" approach, Russell realized that his program was viable only insofar as certain postulates of inference were allowed. In this paper I trace the development of the structural postulates from Analysis of Matter to Human Knowledge. The basic continuity of Russell's thought is established. Certain confusions implicit in (...) the various formulations of the postulates are brought to light. Finally, it is argued that the viability of Russell's program rests on a larger number of independent postulates than he thought were needed. Some implications of Russell's work for current work in the philosophy of science are briefly sketched. (shrink)
The fundamental dialectic of Science as a Process is the interaction between two narrative levels. At one level, the book is a historical narrative of one aspect of one ongoing problem in systematics. At the second level, Hull presents a theoretical model of the scientific process which draws heavily on invoked similarities between biological and scientific change. I first situate the model as one alternative among several which loosely fit under the umbrella of 'evolutionary epistemologies.' Second, I explore one of (...) the implications of Hull's model, namely, that insofar as scientific theories are [parts of] "conceptual lineages," they are "conceptual individuals.". (shrink)