[lit-ideas] Re: Do the fittest survive? Not necessarily

*DONAL*  "For P, aside from these successes, the framework is to be accepted
largely on logical grounds. The Darwinian framework is purely eliminationist
and non-inductive in that, as opposed to Lamarckism, an organism is not
instructed to evolve by its environment but evolves through blind-mutation
that is subject to 'negative feedback' from selection pressures operating in
its ecological niche. From a logical POV there is a key parallel between
Darwinism/Lamarckism in the field of natural evolution and
conjecture&refutation/
inductivism in the field of the evolution of knowledge. In each case the
former position is preferable."

*MOI*:  Do you thinker-people actually argue about this?  It seems to me
patently obvious that I can't direct myself to alter my DNA.  We're here by
accident and will disappear by accident.  There's no such thing as fittest
-- except at the moment, but in a geological wink we could easily be gone --
unless of course you're an investment banker.

Mike Geary



On Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 10:36 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

>
> --- On Wed, 18/8/10, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>
> "Survival of the fittest" is Herbert Spencer's way of summarising Darwinism
> but it does not accurately reflect what is at the core of the theory of
> 'natural selection':- namely, that only what survives and reproduces will
> contribute to the future gene-pool. What may be relatively unfit may,
> contingent on the selection pressures it encounters, survive and reproduce
> where what may be relatively fitter may be eliminated.
>
> This last possibility can be denied by saying that, ipso facto, what
> survives and reproduces is 'fitter' than what is not - but this turns
> "survival of the fittest" into a tautlogy since there is no independent
> criterion of fitness other than survival.
>
> But a tautology or a circular explanation is not an empirical or
> falsifiable explanation: so if Darwinism is reduced to such a tautology or
> circularity it loses its scientific explanatory character. Clearly a
> tautology like "All tables are tables", or a circular explanation for a
> sea-storm such as "Poseidon is angry" (when the only evidence he is angry is
> the sea-storm), are not testable scientific explanations - and there is
> something amiss in suggesting the theory of 'natural selection' is simply
> akin to these.
>
> Popper's answer is set out in a paper on the status of Darwinism where he
> "recants" the view that Darwinism is almost tautological [that Darwinism is
> a kind of tautolgy is stated, for example, by Dawkins in "The Selfish
> Gene"]. The recantation is slighter than it might sound - P distinguishes
> Darwinism _qua_ metaphysical research programme, which sets a framework for
> the kinds of explanation we should seek to account for evolution, from
> Darwinism _qua_ specific testable explanations put forward within that
> framework. The success of such testable explanations are successes of the
> research programme but this does not mean the framework is itself testable
> or falsifiable.
>
> For P, aside from these successes, the framework is to be accepted largely
> on logical grounds. The Darwinian framework is purely eliminationist and
> non-inductive in that, as opposed to Lamarckism, an organism is not
> instructed to evolve by its environment but evolves through blind-mutation
> that is subject to 'negative feedback' from selection pressures operating in
> its ecological niche. From a logical POV there is a key parallel between
> Darwinism/Lamarckism in the field of natural evolution and
> conjecture&refutation/inductivism in the field of the evolution of
> knowledge. In each case the former position is preferable.
>
> Donal
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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