Information Increase in Biological Systems: How does Adaptation Fit?

John Collier
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Progress has become a suspect concept in evolutionary biology, not the least because the core concepts of neo-Darwinism do not support the idea that evolution is progressive. There have been a number of attempts to account for directionality in evolution through additions to the core hypotheses of neo-Darwinism, but they do not establish progressiveness, and they are somewhat of an ad hoc collection. The standard account of fitness and adaptation can be rephrased in terms of information theory. From this, an information of adaptation can be defined in terms of a fitness function. The information of adaptation is a measure of the mutual information between biota and their environment. If the actual state of adaptation lags behind the state of optimal adaptation, then it is possible for the information of adaptation to increase indefinitely. Since adaptations are functional, this suggests the possibility of progressive evolution in the sense of increasing adaptation. Keywords: evolution, information, adaptation, fitness, entropy, progress..
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The Use of Information Theory in Epistemology.William F. Harms - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (3):472-501.

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