This paper locates the contributions of Kauffman and Ayala to this symposium in the context of recent discussions of the adequacy of the Modern Synthesis. The neglect of morphology and development described by Kauffman is understandable in view of the belief that selection is the most powerful evolutionary force. His idea that properties of order may be explained by nonselective mechanisms is also examined. The paper subsequently takes up Ayala's criticism of S.J. Gould's view that macroevolution is a process "decoupled" (...) from microevolution. It is argued that the idea of species selection makes Gould's antireductionism ontological in character; this contrasts with Ayala's contention that the decoupling is merely epistemological. (shrink)
Traditional analyses of the curve fitting problem maintain that the data do not indicate what form the fitted curve should take. Rather, this issue is said to be settled by prior probabilities, by simplicity, or by a background theory. In this paper, we describe a result due to Akaike , which shows how the data can underwrite an inference concerning the curve's form based on an estimate of how predictively accurate it will be. We argue that this approach throws light (...) on the theoretical virtues of parsimoniousness, unification, and non ad hocness, on the dispute about Bayesianism, and on empiricism and scientific realism. * Both of us gratefully acknowledge support from the Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and NSF grant DIR-8822278 (M.F.) and NSF grant SBE-9212294 (E.S.). Special thanks go to A. W. F. Edwards.William Harper. Martin Leckey. Brian Skyrms, and especially Peter Turney for helpful comments on an earlier draft. (shrink)
Michael Scriven’s (1959) example of identical twins (who are said to be equal in fitness but unequal in their reproductive success) has been used by many philosophers of biology to discuss how fitness should be defined, how selection should be distinguished from drift, and how the environment in which a selection process occurs should be conceptualized. Here it is argued that evolutionary theory has no commitment, one way or the other, as to whether the twins are equally fit. This is (...) because the theory of natural selection is fundamentally about the fitnesses of traits, not the fitnesses of token individuals. A plausible philosophical thesis about supervenience entails that the twins are equally fit if they live in identical environments, but evolutionary biology is not committed to the thesis that the twins live in identical environments. Evolutionary theory is right to focus on traits, rather than on token individuals, because the fitnesses of token organisms (as opposed to their actual survivorship and degree of reproductive success) are almost always unknowable. This point has ramifications for the question of how Darwin’s theory of evolution and R. A. Fisher’s are conceptually different. (shrink)
ElliottSober''s selection for/selection of distinction has been widely used to clarify the idea that some properties of organisms are side-effects of selection processes. It has also been used, however, to choose between different descriptions of an evolutionary product when assigning biological functions to that product. We suggest that there is a characteristic error in these uses of the distinction. Complementary descriptions of function are misrepresented as mutually excluding one another. This error arises from a failure to appreciate (...) that selection processes can be described at several different theoretical levels. (shrink)
In Chapter 12 of Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism, which he construes as a conjunction E&N .The hypothesis E says that “human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention (p.220).”1 With respect to proposition N , Plantinga (p. 270) says “it isn’t easy to say precisely what naturalism is,” but then adds that “crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is the view that there is (...) no such person as the God of traditional theism.” Plantinga tries to cast doubt on the conjunction E&N in two ways.His “preliminary argument” aims to show that the conjunction is probably false, given the fact (R) that our psychological mechanisms for forming beliefs about the world are generally reliable.His “main argument” aims to show that the conjunction E&N is self-defeating — if you believe E&N , then you should stop believing that conjunction.Plantinga further develops the main argument in his unpublished paper “Naturalism Defeated” (Plantinga 1994).We will try to show that both arguments contain serious errors. (shrink)
In their 2010 book, Biology’s First Law, D. McShea and R. Brandon present a principle that they call ‘‘ZFEL,’’ the zero force evolutionary law. ZFEL says (roughly) that when there are no evolutionary forces acting on a population, the population’s complexity (i.e., how diverse its member organisms are) will increase. Here we develop criticisms of ZFEL and describe a different law of evolution; it says that diversity and complexity do not change when there are no evolutionary causes.
In ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, Quine attacks the analytic/synthetic distinction and defends a doctrine that I call epistemological holism. Now, almost fifty years after the article’s appearance, what are we to make of these ideas? I suggest that the philosophical naturalism that Quine did so much to promote should lead us to reject Quine’s brief against the analytic/synthetic distinction; I also argue that Quine misunderstood Carnap's views on analyticity. As for epistemological holism, I claim that this thesis does not follow (...) from the logical point that Duhem and Quine made about the role of auxiliary assumptions in hypothesis testing, and that the thesis should be rejected. (shrink)
In this essay, I assess Timothy Blank’s “The Open Theistic Multiverse.” In his article, Blank attempts to show that Open Theism explains how God can plan the creation of a multiverse containing creatures with libertarian freedom. I underscore some benefits of Blank’s article while arguing that, despite its strengths, his paper fails to provide a sufficient explanation of God’s precreational planning.
In this article, I argue that fallibilistic justification is insufficient for propositional knowledge if veritic luck is involved. I provide a thought experiment to demonstrate that even very strong non-factive evidence is insufficient for knowledge if veritic luck is present. I then distinguish between precise justification, which I suggest is required for knowledge in cases of veritic luck, and loose justification, which is sufficient for practical cases in which beliefs are reasonable to hold even if they fall short of being (...) items of knowledge. In addition, I provide a reason for holding that PJ is required for all items of propositional knowledge, and not only for cases of veritic luck. Lastly, I propose that Gettier-style cases pertain to an ambiguity between PJ and LJ. (shrink)
R.K. Elliott's essays on aesthetics put forward a number of common themes that together constitute a unified approach to aesthetics. Throughout his writing, Elliott combines analytic rigour with sympathy for ideas in continental philosophy. This book, the first to gather together Elliott's key essays, powerfully illuminates the unifying role of imagination and the aesthetic in human experience.