Fitness Beats Truth in the Evolution of Perception

Acta Biotheoretica 69 (3):319-341 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Does natural selection favor veridical percepts—those that accurately depict objective reality? Perceptual and cognitive scientists standardly claim that it does. Here we formalize this claim using the tools of evolutionary game theory and Bayesian decision theory. We state and prove the “Fitness-Beats-Truth Theorem” which shows that the claim is false: If one starts with the assumption that perception involves inference to states of the objective world, then the FBT Theorem shows that a strategy that simply seeks to maximize expected-fitness payoff, with no attempt to estimate the “true” world state, does consistently better. More precisely, the FBT Theorem provides a quantitative measure of the extent to which the fitness-only strategy dominates the truth strategy, and of how this dominance increases with the size of the perceptual space. The FBT Theorem supports the Interface Theory of Perception, which proposes that our perceptual systems have evolved to provide a species-specific interface to guide adaptive behavior, and not to provide a veridical representation of objective reality.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,517

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Natural Selection and the Maximization of Fitness.Jonathan Birch - 2016 - Biological Reviews 91 (3):712-727.
The case against reality: why evolution hid the truth from our eyes.Donald David Hoffman - 2019 - New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Independent Publishers since 1923.
Natural Selection Does Care about Truth.Maarten Boudry & Michael Vlerick - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (1):65-77.


Added to PP

137 (#136,243)

6 months
36 (#116,665)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?