Recently, several philosophers have challenged the view that evolutionary theory is usefully understood by way of an analogy with Newtonian mechanics. Instead, they argue that evolutionary theory is merely a statistical theory. According to this alternate approach, natural selection and random genetic drift are not even causes, much less forces. I argue that, properly understood, the Newtonian analogy is unproblematic and illuminating. I defend the view that selection and drift are causes in part by attending to a pair of important (...) distinctions—that between process and product and that between natural selection and fitness. (shrink)
Several philosophers have argued that natural selection will favor reliable belief formation; others have been more skeptical. These traditional approaches to the evolution of rationality have been either too sketchy or else have assumed that phenotypic plasticity can be equated with having a mind. Here I develop a new model to explore the functional utility of belief and desire formation mechanisms, and defend the claim that natural selection favors reliable inference methods in a broad, but not universal, range of circumstances.
As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William (...) Paley saw clearly that we sometimes have an excellent reason to postulate the existence of an intelligent designer. If we find a watch on the heath, we reasonably infer that it was produced by an intelligent watchmaker. This design argument makes perfect sense. Why is it any different to claim that the eye was produced by an intelligent designer? Both critics and defenders of the design argument need to understand what the ground rules are for inferring that an intelligent designer is the unseen cause of an observed effect. (shrink)
The traditional view of evolutionary theory asserts that we can usefully understand natural selection, drift, mutation, migration, and the system of mating as forces that cause evolutionary change. Recently, Denis Walsh and Robert Brandon have objected to this view. Walsh argues that the traditional view faces a fatal dilemma and that the force analogy must be rejected altogether. Brandon accepts the force analogy but argues that drift, rather than the Hardy-Weinberg law, is the best candidate for a zero-force law. Here (...) I defend the traditional view against these objections. (shrink)
Normal 0 0 1 85 487 UBC 4 1 598 11.773 0 0 0 Under what conditions is the failure to have evidence that p evidence that p is false? Absent evidence reasoning is common in many sciences, including astronomy, archeology, biology and medicine. An often-repeated epistemological motto is that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Analysis of absent evidence reasoning usually takes place in a deductive or frequentist hypothesis-testing framework. Instead, I develop a Bayesian analysis of (...) this motto and prove that, under plausible assumptions about the nature of evidence, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. (shrink)
Biologists rely extensively on the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game to model reciprocal altruism. After examining the informal conditions necessary for reciprocal altruism, I argue that formal games besides the standard iterated Prisoner's Dilemma meet these conditions. One alternate representation, the modified Prisoner's Dilemma game, removes a standard but unnecessary condition; the other game is what I call a Cook's Dilemma. We should explore these new models of reciprocal altruism because they predict different stability characteristics for various strategies; for instance, I (...) show that strategies such as Tit-for-Tat have different stability dynamics in these alternate models. (shrink)
This chapter contains section titled: Historical Overview Population Genetics Models The Tautology Problem The Wright‐Fisher Debate Classical/Balance Hypothesis Debate The Neutralism Controversy Saltationism vs. Gradualism Conclusions Acknowledgments References Further Reading.
Ernst Fehr and his collaborators have argued that traditional explanations of human cooperation cannot account for strong reciprocity. They provide substantial empirical evidence that strong reciprocity is an important phenomenon that cannot be explained by the traditional models of kin selection or reciprocal altruism. In this note, however, I argue that it will be difficult to test specific adaptive explanations of strong reciprocity because it is apparently unique to humans. Consequently, it is difficult to employ the comparative method, which is (...) one of biology’s best tools for testing adaptationist claims. (shrink)