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

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 03:05:11 EDT

Donal McEvoy writes:
"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."
--- which is Grice's, mine, and Julie Krueger's point. Obviously NOT  
McCreery's. Else why title the thread with such a patent CONTRADICTION?

"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."
It never had it. I am an Anglican (cfr. Wilberforce).
"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 
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."
I hope you don't believe we descend from apes?

"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 
kinds of  explanation we should seek to account for evolution, from 
Darwinism _qua_  specific testable explanations put forward within that 
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 
largely on logical grounds. The  Darwinian framework is purely eliminationist 
non-inductive in that, as  opposed to Lamarckism, an organism is not 
instructed to evolve by its  environment but evolves through blind-mutation 
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."
I think both were wrong. I mean, they were contradictorily wrong. Lamarck  
is possible less fit.
The fact that he wrote in French did not help.
Speranza -- Bordighera.
Lamarck's writings are available in facsimile and in word format (fr) at 
_www.lamarck.cnrs.fr_ (http://www.lamarck.cnrs.fr) . Search engine allows  ful
l text search.
1809. Philosophie zoologique, ou Exposition des considérations relatives à  
l’histoire naturelle des animaux..., Paris.
On invertebrate  classification:
1801. Système des animaux sans vertèbres, ou tableau général des classes,  
des ordres et des genres de ces animaux; présentant leurs caractères 
essentiels  et leur distribution, d'après la considération de leurs..., Paris, 
Detreville,  VIII : 1-432.
1815-1822. Histoire naturelle des animaux sans vertèbres,  présentant les 
caractères généraux et particuliers de ces animaux..., Tome 1  (1815): 1-462; 
Tome 2 (1816): 1-568; Tome 3 (1816): 1-586; Tome 4 (1817): 1-603;  Tome 5 
(1818): 1-612; Tome 6, Pt.1 (1819): 1-343; Tome 6, Pt.2 (1822): 1-252;  Tome 
7 (1822): 1-711.

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