Authors frequently refer to gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning as exemplifying selection processes in the same sense of this term. However, as obvious as this claim may seem on the surface, setting out an account of “selection” that is general enough to incorporate all three of these processes without becoming so general as to be vacuous is far from easy. In this target article, we set out such a general (...) account of selection to see how well it accommodates these very different sorts of selection. The three fundamental elements of this account are replication, variation, and environmental interaction. For selection to occur, these three processes must be related in a very specific way. In particular, replication must alternate with environmental interaction so that any changes that occur in replication are passed on differentially because of environmental interaction. One of the main differences among the three sorts of selection that we investigate concerns the role of organisms. In traditional biological evolution, organisms play a central role with respect to environmental interaction. Although environmental interaction can occur at other levels of the organizational hierarchy, organisms are the primary focus of environmental interaction. In the functioning of the immune system, organisms function as containers. The interactions that result in selection of antibodies during a lifetime are between entities (antibodies and antigens) contained within the organism. Resulting changes in the immune system of one organism are not passed on to later organisms. Nor are changes in operant behavior resulting from behavioral selection passed on to later organisms. But operant behavior is not contained in the organism because most of the interactions that lead to differential replication include parts of the world outside the organism. Changes in the organism's nervous system are the effects of those interactions. The role of genes also varies in these three systems. Biological evolution is gene-based (i.e., genes are the primary replicators). Genes play very different roles in operant behavior and the immune system. However, in all three systems, iteration is central. All three selection processes are also incredibly wasteful and inefficient. They can generate complexity and novelty primarily because they are so wasteful and inefficient. Key Words: evolution; immunology; interaction; operant behavior; operant learning; replication; selection; variation. (shrink)
Seeking parallels among disciplines can have both risks and benefits. Finding parallels may be a vacuous exercise in categorization, generating no new insights. And pointing to analogous functions may cause us to treat them as homologous. Hull et al. have provided a basis for the generation of insights in different selectionist areas, without confusing analogy with homology.
Hull et al.'s analysis of operant behavior in terms of interaction and replication does not seem consistent with a genuine selection model. The putative replicators do not replicate, and the overall process is more reminiscent of directed mutation than of natural selection. General analogies between natural selection and operant reinforcement are too superficial to be of much scientific use.
This volume contains all of the presidential addresses given before the American Society for Value Inquiry since its first meeting in 1970. Contributions are by Richard Brandt*, Virgil Aldrich*, John W. Davis*, the late Robert S. Hartman*, James B. Wilbur*, the late William H. Werkmeister, Robert E. Carter, the late William T. Blackstone, Gene James, Eva Hauel Cadwallader, Richard T. Hull, Norman Bowie*, Stephen White*, Burton Leiser+, Abraham Edel, Sidney Axinn, Robert Ginsberg, Patricia Werhane, Lisa M. Newton, Thomas Magnell, (...) Sander Lee, John M. Abbarno, Ruth Miller Lucier, and Tom Regan*. Autobiographical sketches* by all of the living contributors and one recently deceased, biographical statements of the remainder, together with photographic portraits of all the contributors*, make this volume a unique record of value inquiry during the past quarter century. __. (shrink)
Whole-genome analysis and whole-exome analysis generate many more clinically actionable findings than traditional targeted genetic analysis. These findings may be relevant to research participants themselves as well as for members of their families. Though researchers performing genomic analyses are likely to find medically significant genetic variations for nearly every research participant, what they will find for any given participant is unpredictable. The ubiquity and diversity of these findings complicate questions about disclosing individual genetic test results. We outline an approach for (...) disclosing a select range of genetic results to the relatives of research participants who have died, developed in response to relatives? requests during a pilot study of large-scale medical genetic sequencing. We also argue that studies that disclose individual research results to participants should, at a minimum, passively disclose individual results to deceased participants? relatives. (shrink)
For a long time, several natural phenomena have been considered unproblematically selection processes in the same sense of “selection.” In our target article we dealt with three of these phenomena: gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning. We characterize selection in terms of three processes (variation, replication, and environmental interaction) resulting in the evolution of lineages via differential replication. Our commentators were largely supportive with respect to variation and environmental interaction but (...) critical with respect to replication, in particular its appeal to information. With some reservations, our commentators think that our general analysis of selection may fit gene-based selection in biological evolution and the reaction of the immune system but not operant learning. If nothing else, this article shows that the notion of selection is not as straightforward as it may seem. (shrink)
Darwin himself suggested the idea of generalizing the core Darwinian principles to cover the evolution of social entities. Also in the nineteenth century, influential social scientists proposed their extension to political society and economic institutions. Nevertheless, misunderstanding and misrepresentation have hindered the realization of the powerful potential in this longstanding idea. Some critics confuse generalization with analogy. Others mistakenly presume that generalizing Darwinism necessarily involves biological reductionism. This essay outlines the types of phenomena to which a generalized Darwinism applies, and (...) upholds that there is no reason to exclude social or economic entities. (shrink)
Many analogies exist between the process of evolution by natural selection and of learning by reinforcement and punishment. A full extension of the evolutionary analogy to learning to include analogues of the fitness, genotype, development, environmental influences, and phenotype concepts makes possible a single theory of the learning process able to encompass all of the elementary procedures known to yield learning.
Activity anorexia illustrates selection of behavior at the biological, behavioral, and neural levels. Based on evolutionary history, food depletion increases the reinforcement value of physical activity that, in turn, decreases the reinforcement effectiveness of eating – resulting in activity anorexia. Neural opiates participate in the selection of physical activity during periods of food depletion.
The interaction of the organism with the environment requires not only reactive, but also active behavior which helps subject to meet the challenge of the uncertainty of the environment. A positive feedback between active behavior and immune system makes the selection process effective.
In their account of learning and behavior, the authors define an interactor as emitted behavior that operates on the environment, which excludes Pavlovian learning. A unified neural-network account of the operant-Pavlovian dichotomy favors interpreting neurons as interactors and synaptic efficacies as replicators. The latter interpretation implies that single-synapse change is inherently Lamarckian.
Education, Religion and Society celebrates the career of Professor John Hull of the University of Birmingham, UK, the internationally renowned religious educationist who has also achieved worldwide fame for his brilliant writings on his experience, mid-career, of total blindness. In his outstanding career he has been a leading figure in the transformation of religious education in English and Welsh state schools from Christian instruction to multi-faith religious education and was the co-founder of the International Seminar on Religious Education and (...) values. John Hull has also made major contributions to the theology of disability and the theological critique of the "money culture." This volume brings together leading international scholars to honour John Hull's contribution, with a focus on furthering scholarship in the areas where he has been active as a thinker. The book offers a critical appreciation of his contribution to religious education and practical theology, and goes on to explore the continuing debate about the role of religious education in promoting international understanding, intercultural education and human rights education. A possible basis for integrating Islamic education into Western education is suggested and the contribution of the philosophy of religion to pluralistic religious education is outlined. The contributors also deal with issues relating to indoctrination, racism and relationship in Christian religious aspects, and examines aspects of the the theology of social exclusion and disability. (shrink)