Baldwin Effect, in which there has been a revival of interest in recent years, is disentangled from certain other ideas which, while resembling it in some ways, also differ importantly from it. Baldwin's original idea was that a 'voluntarily' adopted practice which is adaptive can foster, in some non-Lamarckian way, 'coincident variations' that render the practice instinctive and heritable. It is argued that this idea involves a surreptitious slide back to Lamarckism.
This paper considers criticisms of the author's Science and Scepticism advanced by Fred D' Agostino, Graham Oddie, Elie Zahar, Alan Musgrave, and John Worrall. The criticisms concern the following topics: the aim of science, unified theoryhood, the empirical basis, corroboration by already known evidence, the idea that scientific theories need be no more than possibly true, and the pragmatic problem of induction. Various clarifications and improvements result, and on the last topic the author significantly modifies his position.
The first Darwin Lecture was given in 1977 by Karl Popper. He there said that he had known Darwin's face and name ‘for as long as I can remember’ ; for his father's library contained a portrait of Darwin and translations of most of Darwin's works . But it was not until Popper was in his late fifties that Darwin begin to figure importantly in his writings, and he was nearly seventy when he adopted from Donald Campbell the term ‘evolutionary (...) epistemology’ as a name for his theory of the growth of knowledge . There were people who saw evolutionary epistemology as a major new turn in Popper's philosophy. I do not share that view. On the other hand, there is a piece from this evolutionist period which I regard as a real nugget. (shrink)
At the seventh international congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, held at Salzburg in 1983, I was talking with John Searle when I glanced at my watch and exclaimed, I must run. I'm due to solve the problem of induction at 2.15. ‘Yes,’ he replied, I must go too; I'm due to solve the mind-body problem. I don't know how seriously he meant his remark, but I did actually believe that I had cracked this old problem in the (...) Epilogue of my Science and Scepticism,1 the manuscript of which was then with the publisher. In that book I drew a sharp distinction between the problem which faces a theoretical scientist trying to select, out of several competing theories, the one that best fulfils the aim of science, and the pragmatic problem which faces an applied scientist or practical decision-maker trying to select, out of several competing hypotheses, the one that offers the best guidance. I had what I still regard as a viable solution to the theoreticians problem. It aid that theoreticians should prefer that theory, if there is one, that is the best corroborated; for on a certain non-trivial but uncontroversial assumption about what kinds of test have been made, the best corroborated theory will best satisfy what I claimed to be the optimum aim for science: it will be deeper and wider than its rivals and, moreover, possibly true, given all the reported outcomes of tests in its field. For present purposes we can forget the explications I offered for ‘deeper’ and ‘wider’. As to ‘possibly true’: this reflects the abandonment of hopes that science can arrive at theories that are certainly true, or at least have a high probability of being true, or at the very least have had their probability raised by the experimental evidence. (shrink)
By 'scientific theory' I shall mean a core of fundamental assumptions fleshed out by a suitable array of auxiliary assumptions. Let there be two or more competing scientific theories in a certain field, thrown up by rival research programmes in Lakatos's sense. Now consider these two questions: (1) Which of these theories should I accept? (2) Which of these theories should I work on? They are surely very different questions. The personal pronoun 'I' could be dropped from question (1), which (...) could be reformulated as 'Which of these theories should anyone accept as the best one, in the light of the presently available evidence?' In my (1984) I suggested that the best theory is the one that best fulfils what I depicted as the optimum aim for science; and this, I argued, will be the one that is best corroborated. Which means that we may turn question (1) into: (1 ') Which of these theories is best corroborated? (shrink)