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Natural Selection is not an Explanatory Mechanism

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Charles Darwin

Denis Noble

JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

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2450 words

Darwin proposed, back in 1859, that species arose due to natural selection—the pruning of deleterious genetic variations in a population, which led to the thinking that the “inherent design” in nature, formerly thought to be due to a designer (“God”) was due to a force Darwin called “natural selection” (NS). The line of reasoning is thus: (1) two individuals of the same population are mostly the same genetically/phenotypically, but have small differences between them, and one of the small differences is a difference in a trait needed for survival. (2) But both traits can contribute to fitness, how does NS ‘know’ to select for either coextensive trait? Now think about two traits: trait T and trait T’. What would explain the fixation of either trait in the population we are discussing? NS is not—cannot—be the mechanism of evolution.

In 2010, philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, wrote a book titled “What Darwin Got Wrong“, which argued that NS is not a causal mechanism in regard to the formation of new species. Their argument is (pg 114):

  1. Selection-for is a causal process.
  2. Actual causal relations aren’t sensitive to counterfactual states of affairs: if it wasn’t the case that A, then the fact that it’s being A would have caused its being B doesn’t explain its being the case that B.
  3. But the distinction between traits that are selected-for and their free-riders turns on the truth (or falsity) of relevant counterfactuals.
  4. So if T and T’ are coextensive, selection cannot distinguish the case in which T free-rides on T’ from the case that T’ free-rides on T.
  5. So the claim that selection is the mechanism of evolution cannot be true.

This argument is incredibly strong. If it is true, then NS cannot be the mechanism by which evolution occurs; NS is not—nor can it be—the mechanism of evolution. So, regarding the case of two traits that are coextensive with each other, it’s not possible to ascertain which trait was selected-for and which trait was the free-rider. NS cannot distinguish between two locally coextensive traits, so, therefore, it is not an explanatory mechanism and does not explain the evolution of species, contra Darwin. It cannot be the mechanism that connects phenotypic variation with fitness variation.

The general adaptationist argument is: “(1) the claim that evolution is a process in which creatures with adaptive traits are selected and (2) the claim that evolution is a process in which creatures are selected for their adaptive traits” (Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini, 2010: 13). Darwinists are committed to inferring (2) from (1), though it is fallacious. It is known as the intensional fallacy.

Due to the intensionality of “select-for” and “trait”, one cannot infer from ‘Xs have trait t and Xs were selected’ to ‘Xs were selected for having trait t’” (Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini, 2010: 139). How does one distinguish from a trait that was selected-for and a free-rider that hitched a ride on the truly adaptive trait for the organism in question? The argument provided above shows that it is not possible. “Darwinists have a crux about free-riding because they haven’t noticed the intensionality of selection-for and the like; and when it is brought to their attention, they haven’t the slightest idea what to do about it” (Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini, 2010: 16).

No observation can show whether or not trait T or T’ was selected-for in virtue of its contribution to fitness in a given population; favoring one story over another in regard to the adaptation of a trait in question, therefore, does not make any logical sense due to the problem of free-riders (and, also, favoring one story over another is due to bias for the like of the specific adaptive just-so story in question). For if two traits are coextensive—meaning that traits coincide with one another—then how can NS—which does not have a mind—‘know’ to “select-for” whichever trait contributes to fitness in the population in question? Breeders are the perfect example.

Breeders have minds and can therefore select for certain traits and against undesirable traits; however, of course, since NS does not have a mind, this is not the case when it comes to naturally selected traits (so-called), since NS does not have a mind. NS cannot explain the distribution of phenotypic traits throughout the world; there is no agent of NS nor are there ‘laws of selection’, therefore NS is not an explanatory mechanism. Explanations based on NS are based only on correlations with traits and fitness, not on causes themselves (this critique can be extended to numerous other fields, too). The problem with relying only on correlations between traits and fitness is two-fold: (1) the trait in question can be irrelevant to fitness and (2) the trait in question can be a free-rider.

Creatures have traits that increase fitness because they were selected-for, the story goes. NS explains why the creature in question has trait T, which increases fitness in environment E. One can then also make the claim that the selection of the trait in question was due to the increased fitness it gave the creature. However, if this claim is made, “then the theory of natural selection would reduce to a trait’s being a cause of reproductive success [which then] explains its being a cause of reproductive success which explains nothing (and isn’t true).

So since genetically-linked traits are coextensive with an infinitude of different possible outcomes, then the hypothesis that trait X is an adaptation is underdetermined by all possible observations, which means that NS cannot explain how and why organisms have the traits they do, since NS cannot distinguish between two coextensive traits, since NS lacks a mind and agency.

NS can be said to be an explanation if and only if two conditions are met: (1) if NS can be understood as acting on counterfactuals and (2) if NS can be said to be acting on any physical evolutionary laws.

(1) A counterfactual is an “if-clause”, which is contrary to a fact. A counterfactual is a statement that cannot be true, for example, “I hear but I have no ears” or “I see but I have no eyes.” Thus, if it were possible for NS to be an explanation for the continuance of a specific trait that is linked to other traits (that is, they are coextensive) in a given population, it would need to—necessarily—invoke a counterfactual about NS. It would need to be the case that the trait in question would still be selected for in the absence of free-riders. As an example from Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini (2010: 103) a heart pumps blood (what it was selected-for) and makes pumping sounds (its linked free-rider). Thus, if the pumping of blood and the sound that blood-pumping makes were not coextensive, then the pumping, not the pumping sounds, get selected for.

There is a huge problem, though. Counterfactuals are intentional statements; they refer to concepts found in our minds, not any physical things. NS does not have a mind and thus lacks the ability to “select-for” since “selecting-for” is intentional. Therefore NS does not act on counterfactuals; it is blind to the fact of counterfactuals since it does not have a mind.

(2) It does not seem likely that there are “laws of selection”. Clearly, the adaptive value of any phenotype depends on the environment that the organism is in. Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini (2010: 149) write (emphasis theirs):

The problem is that it’s unlikely that there are laws of selection. Suppose that P1 and P2 are coextensive but that, whereas the former is a property that affects fitness, the latter is merely a correlate of a property that does. The suggestion is that all this comes out right if the relation between P1 and fitness is lawful, and the relation between P2 and fitness is not. …it’s just not plausible that there are laws that relate phenotypic traits per se to fitness. What (if any) effect a trait has on fitness depends on what kind of phenotype is embedded in, and what ecology the creature that has the trait inhabits. This is to say that, if you wish to explain the effects that a phenotypic trait has on a creature’s fitness, what you need is not its history of selection but its natural history. And natural history offers not laws of selection but narrative accounts of causal chains that lead to the fixation of phenotypic traits. Although laws support counterfactuals, natural histories do not; and, as we’ve repeatedly remarked, it’s counterfactual support on which distinguishing the arches from the spandrels depends.

There is, too, a simple example regarding coextensive traits and selection. Think of the lactase gene. It is well-known that we humans are adapted to drink milk—and the cause is gene-culture coevolution that occurred at around the time of cow domestication (Beja-Perreira et al, 2003; Gerbalt et al, 2011). No one disputes the fact that gene-culture coevolution is how and why we can drink milk. But what people do dispute is the adaptive just-so story (Gould and Lewontin, 1976; Lloyd, 1999; Richardson, 2007) that was made to explain how and why the trait went to fixation in certain human populations. Nielsen (2009) writes (emphasis mine):

The difference in lactose intolerance among human geographic groups, is caused by a difference in allele frequencies in and around the lactase gene (Harvey et al. 1998; Hollox et al. 2001; Enattah et al. 2002; Poulter et al. 2003). The cause for the difference in allele frequencies is primarily natural selection emerging about the same time as dairy farming evolved culturally (Bersaglieri et al. 2004). Together, these observations lead to a compelling adaptive story of natural selection favoring alleles causing lactose tolerance. But even in this case we have not directly shown that the cause for the selection is differential survival due to an ability/inability to digest lactose. We must acknowledge that there could have been other factors, unknown to us, causing the selection acting on the region around the Lactase gene. Even if we can argue that selection acted on a specific mutation, and functionally that this mutation has a certain effect on the ability to digest lactose, we cannot, strictly speaking, exclude the possibility that selection acted on some other pleiotropic effect of the mutation. This argument is not erected to dispute the adaptive story regarding the lactase gene, the total evidence in favor of adaptation and selection related to lactose tolerance is overwhelming in this case, but rather to argue that the combination of a functional effect and selection does not demonstrate that selection acted on the specific trait in question.

Selection could have acted on a free-rider that is coextensive with the lactase gene, and just because “the story fits the data” well (that’s a necessary truth; of course the story can fit the data because any story can be formulated for any data) does not mean that it is true, that the reason for trait T is reason R since they “fit the data so well.”

Of course, this holds for EP, evolutionary anthropology, and my favorite theory for the evolution of human skin color, the vitamin D hypothesis. I do not, of course, deny that light skin is needed in order to synthesize vitamin D in climates with low UVB; that is a truism. What is denied is the fact that selection acted on light skin (and its associated/causal genes); what is denied is the combination of functional effect and selection. Just-so stories are necessarily true; they, of course, fit any data because one can formulate any story to fit any data points they have. Thus, Darwinists are just storytellers who have a bunch of data; there is no way to distinguish between the selection of a trait because it increased fitness and the selection of a free-rider that is “just there” that does not increase fitness, but the thing that increases fitness is what the free-rider “rode in on.”

NS is not and cannot be an explanatory mechanism. Darwinism has already been falsified (Jablonka and Lamb, 2005; Noble, 2011; Noble, 2012; Noble, 2017) and so, this is yet another nail-in-the-coffin for Darwinism. The fact that traits that are coextensive means that NS would have to “know” which trait to act on; NS cannot “know” which of the coextensive traits to act on (because it has no mind) and, NS cannot be a general mechanism that connects phenotypic variation to variation in fitness. NS does not explain the evolution of species, nor can NS distinguish between two locally coextensive traits—traits T and T’—because NS has no agency and does not have a mind. Therefore NS is not an explanatory mechanism. Just invoking NS to explain the continuance of any trait fails to explain the survival of the trait because NS cannot distinguish between traits that enhance an organism’s fitness and free-riders which are irrelevant to survival but are coextensive with the selected-for trait, as long as the traits in question are coextensive.

P1) If there is selection for T but not T’, various counterfactuals must be true.
P2) If the counterfactuals are true, then NS must be an intentional-agent, or there must be laws about “selection-for”.
P3) NS is mindless.
P4) There are no laws for “selection-for”.
∴ It is false that selection for T but not T’ occurs in a population.

One then has two choices:

(1) Argue that NS has a mind and therefore that it can “select for” certain traits that are adaptable in a given population of organisms in the environment in question. “Select-for” implies intention. Intentional acts only occur in organisms with minds. Intentional states are only possible if something has a mind. Humans are the only organisms with minds. Humans are the only organisms that can act intentionally. NS does not have a mind. (Animal breeder’s are an example that can select-for desirable traits and against undesirable traits because animals breeder’s are humans and humans can act intentionally.) Therefore NS does not act intentionally since it does not have a mind. I don’t think anyone would argue that NS has a mind and acts intentionally as an agent, therefore P3 is true.

(2) Argue that there are laws for “selection-for” phenotypic traits related to fitness. But it’s not possible that there are laws that relate to the selection of a phenotype, per se, in a given population. The effect of a trait depends on the ecology of the organism in question as well as its natural history. Therefore, to understand the effects of a phenotypic trait on the fitness of an organism we must understand its natural history, not its selection history (so-called). Therefore P4 is true.

There are no laws for “selection-for”, nor does NS have a mind that can select a trait that lends to an organism’s fitness and not a trait that’s just correlated with the trait in question

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85 Comments

  1. Phil78 says:

    So instead of a”selection scenario” to specific genes to explain allele frequency shifts, do you propose a type of “stimulus-response” scenario? For instance, in the case of skin color or adaptation, natural forces interacts with a population (stimulus) and (as a response) activation/success from adaptive traits increase but due to the presence of free riders (which can also be deleterious).

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1303.0805.pdf

    it doesn’t work in a directed process but more of a “circumstantial” process?

    Like

  2. Buuuuuuuuud says:

    Just give up, bud. You’re just too dumb to understand the science.

    Like

  3. King meLo says:

    Do you know the difference between intention and intension?

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Intension is the character that determines the applicability of a term whereas intention implies intent (for instance,intentional states imply action, which is only possible in organisms with minds). “Select-for” is intensional. For example “One, but not the other, coextensive trait can be selected for.” Sorting is intensional; if such an agent were doing the sorting, then this would account for the intensionality. “Selection-for” is intensional.

      Natural selection doesn’t have a mind, therefore there is no intention with regard to selection. Intensional causation in regard to natural selection would require there to be either laws for “selection-for” or there is a mind involved in the process of causation through natural selection. NS is mindless and there are no laws for selection-for.

      “Selection-for” is intensional; coextensive but distinct phenotypic properties exist; one is conducive to fitness, the other is just a free-rider with the trait that increases fitness; but natural selection cannot distinguish between coextensive traits where one is a free-rider and the other is conducive to fitness. It cannot distinguish.

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    • King meLo says:

      Just making sure.

      Actually you need to define what a trait is. Because the environment selects organisms not individual traits. So selection is not intensional.

      Secondly, selection is dependent on physical laws. Falling out of a tree is an effect from gravitational law. Organisms living in trees evolve adaptations to not fall of of these trees. Therefore there selection is dependent on biophysical laws.

      P1 natural selection cannot purport to do what it does if it does not follow bio-physical laws

      P2 biology reduces to physical laws. (E.g. thermodynamics, law of conservation of mass and energy, gravitational laws)

      P3 bio-physical/nomological laws must exist

      C1 natural selection does in fact contribute to phenotypic variation.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Actually you need to define what a trait is

      A particular character that an organism has.

      “The environment” can’t “select” since that implies intentionality and “the environment” has no mind.

      There are no laws for “selection-for” because the effect that trait T has on the fitness of an organism depends on its natural, not (so-called) selective, history. Natural history doesn’t offer causal laws, but narrative accounts of causal chains which lead to the fixation of traits in a certain population.

      Nomological explanations are about the relationship between two properties whereas historical narratives are about a causal chain of events which leads to the fixation of trait T in a population of organisms, for instance. Nomological laws were taken care of in the last argument provided in the article. (There are no laws for “selection-for” thus It is false that selection for T but not T’ occurs in a population.

      You’re a reductive physicalist?

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “A particular character that an organism has.”

      Define a “particular character”. I thought you agreed with noble that an organism not it’s individual genotypes is what’s selected for?

      “Nomological explanations are about the relationship between two properties whereas historical narratives are about a causal chain of events which leads to the fixation of trait T in a population of organisms”

      Yes and nomological explanations are what govern the relationship between causal events. You’re creating a distinction without a difference.

      “Nomological laws were taken care of in the last argument provided in the article. (There are no laws for “selection-for” thus It is false that selection for T but not T’ occurs in a population.”

      Actually I just gave 3 examples of “selection for” laws. Either way, your argument rests on a category mistake as I mentioned earlier( I wonder why you ignored it?) Natural selection does not select for, the environment does, therefore you syllogism’s conclusion is that Environment cannot explain phenotypic variation, not natural selection. Which we all already know how ridiculous that idea is.

      “You’re a reductive physicalist?”

      I’m a reductionist, a holist, a rationalist, empiricist, skeptic, anti realist, scientific realist, ad infinium. I’m sure that blows your mind, but intelligent people do not adhere to absolutist ideology.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Define a “particular character”.

      A phenotypic trait.

      I thought you agreed with noble that an organism not it’s individual genotypes is what’s selected for?

      Is a creature’s phenotype appropriate for the ecology that it inhabits?

      Actually I just gave 3 examples of “selection for” laws.

      How do those laws establish that T and not T’ would be “selected-for”?

      Natural selection does not select for, the environment does

      Like natural selection, the environment does not have a mind either; only humans can select.

      I’m a reductionist, a holist, a rationalist, empiricist, skeptic, anti realist, scientific realist, ad infinium. I’m sure that blows your mind, but intelligent people do not adhere to absolutist ideology.

      hahaha

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “A phenotypic trait.”

      So a trait is defined as a particular character and a particular character is defined as a trait? Do you not see how that isn’t answering the question? You could just give me an example….

      “Is a creature’s phenotype appropriate for the ecology that it inhabits?”

      It depends on the ecology.

      “How do those laws establish that T and not T’ would be “selected-for”?”

      Well first as repeated for the nth time, Traits are not selected for, Organisms are, so the distinction between byproduct and adaption is redundant unless the byproduct is enormously a maladaptive one, like Schizophrenia.

      If Phsyical law A,X,Y and B are consistent constraints that form an ecology, Which ever organism has the most adaptive genotype to these constraints prospers while the other does not. What is being selected is the entirety of traits, not just one.

      “Like natural selection, the environment does not have a mind either; only humans can select.”

      Nope. Even artificial selection cannot select for a singular “trait” because such a finite concept does not actually exist. Since I’ve already demonstrated the existence of laws that govern “select for” the Environment can in fact select.

      “hahaha”

      Wow, he doesn’t actually get how stupid he sounds. How humorous.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      You could just give me an example….

      Big vs small peacock feathers.

      It depends on the ecology.

      It’s tautological.

      so the distinction between byproduct and adaption is redundant unless the byproduct is enormously a maladaptive one, like Schizophrenia.

      No it’s not redundant; byproduct explanations for schizophrenia are just-so stories as are adaptationist explanations.

      What is being selected is the entirety of traits, not just one.

      There are no laws of trait fixation; natural selection is not a mechanism and there is nothing to play the role of mechanism. If two traits are coextensive then how does NS distinguish the fitness-causer from the non-fitness-causer? No mechanism can play the role of “natural selection” explains trait fixation.

      P1) Niches are individuated post hoc by reference to the phenotypes that live in said niche.
      P2) If the organisms weren’t there, the niche would not be there either.
      C) Therefore there is no fitness of phenotypes to lifestyles that explain said adaptation.

      Even artificial selection cannot select for a singular “trait” because such a finite concept does not actually exist.

      Breeders can manipulate phenotypes; they can select for traits they deem desirable and select against traits they do not want. There is intention in animal breeding—something that NS—and “the environment”—lacks because it does not have a mind.

      Since I’ve already demonstrated the existence of laws that govern “select for” the Environment can in fact select.

      These laws govern trait fixation and can play the role of “mechanism”? “The environment” does not have a mind and therefore cannot “select” either; ecological niches are intensional.

      What does natural selection predict? NS does not distinguish causes of fitness from their local confounds so there cannot be a theory of NS.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “Big vs small peacock feathers.”

      So where is the cut off between big and small peacock feathers? Do you think Adaptations are absolute?

      “No it’s not redundant; byproduct explanations for schizophrenia are just-so stories as are adaptationist explanations.There are no laws of trait fixation; natural selection is not a mechanism and there is nothing to play the role of mechanism. If two traits are coextensive then how does NS distinguish the fitness-causer from the non-fitness-causer?””

      Evolution in general is a process not a mechanism, Environment and the Organisms in them are the Mechanisms. Natural selection is just a kind of evolution.

      You’re also still thinking in terms of individual traits, organisms are what is selected and when you take that into consideration, the subsequent deduction is that all traits including byproducts are also adaptations because they comprise the whole organism’s genome. Even then, some adaptations can be beneficial in one environment while deleterious in another. So the only Maladaptive traits are Cognitive ones because by definition increased cognition is general adaptability. So schizophrenia is the only Psychological trait we can say is in fact maladaptive because by definition it is Ego Dissolution and is therefore a hindrance in any environment.

      Differentiation adaptation vs byproduct is redundant but determining how a trait became selected is a different story and independent verification helps solve this. Jerry coyne also laid out a few examples of other methods in his criticism of Fodor.

      “P1) Niches are individuated post hoc by reference to the phenotypes that live in said niche.
      P2) If the organisms weren’t there, the niche would not be there either.
      C) Therefore there is no fitness of phenotypes to lifestyles that explain said adaptation.”

      So now you’re denying that niche construction is a selective force? How can a system be holistic if it doesn’t interact holistically? Ridiculous.

      “There is intention in animal breeding—something that NS—and “the environment”—lacks because it does not have a mind.”

      Selection does not require intention. “Select for” is just a term, Evolution is actually an emergent filtration process, as is a niche and environmental disruption is what fuels this filtration. There is no intensionality going on, when you remove the Anthropomorphic language.

      Is this really the route you’re taking? I already called it out before, That’d you’d try to extend the arguments on semantic holism to Evolution. Do you remember? If you can’t dispense with anthropomorphism in Evolution, then Evolution must be progressive through a self actualizing universe. It’s funny, i read Fodor’s thesis a long time ago and had a weird feeling you’d try to propagate it.

      “What does natural selection predict? ”

      https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0077

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      A phenotypic trait is a trait that increases a creature’s fitness in relation to the current ecology it finds itself in; one can also say that X is a phenotypic trait since “phenotype” is the set of observable characters resulting from GxE.

      Evolution in general is a process not a mechanism, Environment and the Organisms in them are the Mechanisms. Natural selection is just a kind of evolution.

      NS can’t be a “kind of evolution” if it can’t distinguish between two coextensive traits.

      You’re also still thinking in terms of individual traits, organisms are what is selected

      Organisms are selected for the relative fitness of their phenotypes. NS cannot distinguish between traits that cause fitness from traits that are just correlated with fitness so NS does not explain why different organisms have the traits they do.

      all traits including byproducts are also adaptations because they comprise the whole organism’s genome

      Byproducts are selected, not selected for. Byproducts have no clear benefit for the organisms fitness or survival. A byproduct is a trait that moved to fixation in the EEA because it was coextensive with an adaptive trait.

      Differentiation adaptation vs byproduct is redundant but determining how a trait became selected is a different story and independent verification helps solve this. Jerry coyne also laid out a few examples of other methods in his criticism of Fodor.

      An independent verifier is an observation which confirms that X originated as an adaptation, and not as a result of a byproduct, drift, pleiotropy etc. So the hypothesis that trait T is an adaptation needs to disconfirm byproduct, drift, pleiotropy, exaptation etc. No such observation is possible because the observation that X is an adaptation is underdetermined by all possible observations. So selectionist explanations are just-so stories.

      There is no intensionality going on

      So there is no way for NS to identify T over T’?

      https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0077

      When two traits are coextensive, how does NS distinguish the one that causes fitness from the trait that doesn’t (its linked free-rider)? It can’t because selection-for is an intensional notion.

      The theory of natural selection states that organisms are selected for the relative fitness of their phenotypes in relation to their ecologies. Phenotypic traits are selected for their role in causing increases in fitness corresponding with the following principle:

      If in a given ecology, organisms with T1 are more fit than organisms with T2, then, all else being equal, creatures with T1 will be selected and not creatures with T2. If both of these organisms are equally fit, then neither type of organism will be selected in preference to the other organism. But what if T1 and T2 are linked? Now suppose that T1 causes increased fitness and T2 does not. The traits are linked, so the correlation of T2 and fitness is the same as the correlation of T1 with fitness. Thus, all else being equal, if T1 is selected then so is T2. If T2 is selected then so is T1.

      Darwin should have said that traits are selected which cause alterations in fitness in a given ecology, not that they’re correlated with alterations in fitness. But then Darwin would have needed to identify a mechanism that in a given ecology responds differently to phenotypic traits depending on whether or not they are causes of alterations of fitness of merely correlated with the causes of the alterations of fitness. In lieu of a mechanism, there is no theory of natural selection.

      The theory of NS presumes a distinction between “selects” and “selects-for”, so for the theory to explain the distribution of phenotypic traits it must satisfy (1) or (2): (1) that NS has a mind/mental powers since intensionality is intentional, then intentional states have the ability to distinguish between coextensive traits; and (2) counter-factual supporting laws that phylogenetically link certain phylogenetic traits across different ecologies so that if you have one, you have the other. There is no agent of selection, (1) is discarded and there are no laws of selection so (2) is discarded so:

      P1) For NS to explain the distribution of phenotypic traits it must satisfy (1) or (2).
      P2) NS does not satisfy (1) or (2).
      C) NS does not explain trait fixation.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “A phenotypic trait is a trait that increases a creature’s fitness in relation to the current ecology it finds itself in. NS cannot distinguish between traits that cause fitness from traits that are just correlated with fitness so NS does not explain why different organisms have the traits they do. Byproducts are selected, not selected for. Byproducts have no clear benefit for the organisms fitness or survival.

      How does that answer the question or address the main issue? Ceteris paribus is meaningless. If the whole organism, meaning the whole suite of phenotypes and genotypes present on an organism are what is selected, then all traits whether they are coextensive or not are adaptations.

      Evolution(synonymous with NS) does not make decisions, the environment does. This fills “requirement”(LOL) #2 because an environment is just a system of nomological laws, with corresponding counterfactuals. Selected for” is only intensional because it implies decision making. “Filtration” defines a random emergent process and better encapsulates the actual properties of Evolution, whilst simultaneously dispensing any kind of intension, therefore when Evolution is expressed in this manner it not longer “requires” #1, of course it does still need #2 but Biology reduces to physics. As a physiology and biochemistry “expert” you cannot deny this.

      “An independent verifier is an observation which confirms that X originated as an adaptation, and not as a result of a byproduct, drift, pleiotropy etc.”

      No. An Independent verifier confirms a post hoc relationship as causal.. It isn’t specifically for adaptationist theories.

      “P1) For NS to explain the distribution of phenotypic traits it must satisfy (1) or (2).
      P2) NS does not satisfy (1) or (2).
      C) NS does not explain trait fixation.”.

      Im not sure why you’re just repeating yourself instead of actually pointing out any misconceptions I may have about your position.Are you going to actually address my citation? You asked a question and I answered it. “byproduct, drift, pleiotropy, exaptation etc. ” are not mutually exclusive to natural selection. The issue(and this goes back to the whole thing with you and Fodor defining words wrong) is that “byproducts” is an umbrella term for your list and since we already established organisms are what goes through this filtration then that list can in fact also be one of adaptations. A trait produced by natural selection is not equivalent to an “adaptation” or “a trait that causes fitness” Subsequently the supposed mechanism to distinguish this is not needed because the premise is unfounded and formed from a semantic non sequiter.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      How does that answer the question or address the main issue?

      It is the main issue; byproducts are not adaptations.

      all traits whether they are coextensive or not are adaptations.

      False.

      an environment is just a system of nomological laws

      Ceteris paribus, there must be laws about which traits would win trait competitions (T1 or T2). No laws exist showing which trait would win a trait competition. Therefore there are no laws of selection-for.

      Biology reduces to physics

      Reductionism is false.

      No. An Independent verifier confirms a post hoc relationship as causal.. It isn’t specifically for adaptationist theories.

      That’s what an independent verifier is in regard to adaptationist theories; a verifier is something that disconfirms other explanations.

      Are you going to actually address my citation?

      Oh because that’s your “argument” right?

      That’s what I meant with my question “What does natural selection predict?” meaning that it does not predict which trait out of T1 or T2 would win a trait competition. NS does not predict anything.

      Subsequently the supposed mechanism to distinguish this is not needed because the premise is unfounded and formed from a semantic non sequiter.

      So there is no mechanism.

      I reiterated the argument against NS; NS does not satisfy (1) or (2) therefore it is not an evolutionary mechanism.

      (I’m an “expert” in HMS by the way.)

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “It is the main issue; byproducts are not adaptations. False. Ceteris paribus,”

      No, the point I’m talking about is at what line do you say a specific quantity of particular organic characters forms a “trait”? Which of course does tie back into the main issue, because there is no line, and the ensuing consequence is that no singular part of an organism is selected. The whole organism is selected ad infinium. So although “neutral” traits can supposedly be coextensive to adaptive traits, there is no such thing as a Neutral organism, your phenotype is either selected or it’s not, you either reproduce or you don’t. “Neutral organisms” cannot get free rides.A Neutral and selected organism are not and cannot be coextensive, therefore the intensionality of “selected for” crumbles as does the rest of Fodor’s argument. So far that’s two arguments that take away the intensionality “of selected for”

      I’ll humor you, lets get back to the topic of Artificial selection and say you could definitively isolate a trait to it’s lowest finite level (possibly molecular or atomic) whilst simultaneously controlling for every other environmental factor. What you would find is that the amount of change is so small that the magnitude of selection would be insignificant. The point being, that stating ” ceteris paribus” does not actually address anything because it isn’t relevant to the kind of conceptual criticism I’m offering.

      “Therefore there are no laws of selection-for. Reductionism is false.”

      Darwin actually didn’t use the term “selected for” once in his original theory. In fact the first and full term that was later coined in the 50’s was “selected for phenotype”. A phenotype is all of the characteristics on an organism that can be affected by the environment, not just one or two. The latter term is not intensional. That’s a another strawman fallacy by Fodor. SO those kinds of laws are not needed but, another kind is which brings me to the next issue:

      Biology is impossible without reducing to chemistry which is impossible without reducing to physics. Those kinds of laws are the only laws required for there to be selection between organisms and their respective populations. You don’t know what reductionsim means or more specifically you fail to to give off a hint of understanding or to even acknowledge the difference between conceptual and physical reductionism. Until then I’ll be waiting on a real response.

      “Oh because that’s your “argument” right? meaning that it does not predict which trait out of T1 or T2 would win a trait competition. ”

      No dumbass, despite what you like to strawman, I know what a fucking argument is. You’re literally too stupid to tell when I am or when I’m not making one.

      Your question is nonsensical which is why i assumed you mean’t “how can you predict evolution.” NS is a process not a mechanism. Environment is one of the selecting mechanisms and when it filters through death(natural selection) and not through migrations(genetic drift) it is blind to neutral variation in a population of organisms, an example is if I lived in a world where only three colors existed, but I could only see two of them 100% of the time. How could I make a distinction between the three when I don’t even know the properties or even the existence of the other? Translation: any organism or “trait” that persists trans-generationally is adaptive, any that does not reproduce is maladaptive. NS only sees Maladaptive or adaptive, Neutral variation is not visible to it. Therefore it’s not intensional. That’s the 3rd one.

      “So there is no mechanism.”

      NS is an explanatory process not a mechanism unless you consider it a sub-mechanism under evolution, but that’s just semantics. Environment is the mechanism of All Evolution. There is no mechanism for distinguishing traits of fitness and traits correlated with fitness because the distinction does not actually exist. That’s a product of You and Fodor’s misconceptions on how evolution works.

      “(I’m an “expert” in HMS by the way.)”

      You’re clearly not an expert in anything.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      The whole organism is selected

      This doesn’t circumvent the problem of free-riders.

      the kind of conceptual criticism I’m offering.

      You think that saying “The whole organism is selected” is a solution to the problem of free-riders.

      A phenotype is all of the characteristics on an organism that can be affected by the environment, not just one or two.

      Those kinds of laws are most definitely needed. Since the term “select-for” implies an agent or law that does said selecting of phenotypes; no such laws exist (and “the environment” is not an agent either, so that’s false) therefore there are no laws of selection.

      If you don’t have a notion of “trait that is selected-for” then you don’t have a notion of “trait selection” so you, therefore, cannot say that traits are selected for their connection with fitness.

      “Selection-for” requires a set of nomologically necessary, counterfactual-supporting generalizations, meaning laws that determine how the relative fitness of having the traits in question would be selected in a possible world where the coextension between the two traits does not hold—there are no such laws. So to explain why T but not T’ is selected for, you need a mechanism that is differentially responsive to T over T’. Then, and only then, can one explain why counterfactuals of the “If T and T’ were uncorrelated . . .” are true or false. But it is not possible.

      Biology is impossible without reducing to chemistry which is impossible without reducing to physics.

      Biology does not reduce to chemistry, biology is not applied chemistry,

      Here’s a good piece for you:

      Historical contingency and the futility of reductionism: Why chemistry (and biology) is not physics

      Translation: any organism or “trait” that persists trans-generationally is adaptive, any that does not reproduce is maladaptive. NS only sees Maladaptive or adaptive, Neutral variation is not visible to it. Therefore it’s not intensional. That’s the 3rd one.

      Using this “logic”, byproducts are adaptations, which is false. (Traits exist which are not adaptations; a byproduct is a phenotypic character that is the byproduct of another character with no current utility.) Byproducts have a specific definition that you’re disregarding. NS doesn’t “see” anything (it lacks a mind); when the traits are coextensive, then NS cannot distinguish between the free-rider and the fitness-enhancing trait. So NS doesn’t predict which traits an organism has. The theory of NS cannot explain or predict why a population of organisms has the traits they do.

      There is no mechanism … That’s a product of You and Fodor’s misconceptions on how evolution works.

      So there is no way for NS to “know” when two traits are coextensive and which to select-for since there is no agent and there are no laws. NS cannot be the explanatory mechanism, nor the explanatory filtration process, to use yours and Coyne’s terminology since it’s not an agent. (Nor can the environment stand-in, since it is not an agent nor are there laws of selection.) “The environment” is not “the mechanism of all evolution”, we don’t know the mechanism of evolution. Saying that “the environment” is the mechanism of evolution does not, again, circumvent the problem of free-riders: “the environment” does not–cannot—distinguish between coextensive traits since it is not an agent and it lacks the conceptual resources to discriminate traits that cause fitness from traits that are merely correlated with traits that cause fitness. And, again, there are no laws of selection.

      You’re clearly not an expert in anything.

      Shoot me an email next time you’re in New Jersey and I’ll show you.

      (Also refer back to the argument provided on trait competitions. That’s the crux of the issue.)

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “This doesn’t circumvent the problem of free-riders. You think that saying “The whole organism is selected” is a solution to the problem of free-riders.(Traits exist which are not adaptations; a byproduct is a phenotypic character that is the byproduct of another character with no current utility.)”

      You cannot give me a definitive description of a trait. Even if you quantified it, it would have such an insignificant morphological change(because you’d be changing it on a molecular or atomic scale), there would be barely any beneficial gain to be had. Especially considering Biological systems are holistic to begin with. Logically, Selection can only have notable effects on clusters of traits and organisms. Even if you held all equal except some arbitrary collection of characters that define a trait between Organism A and Organism B they would still have different phenotypes and since the phenotype of the organism is the object of selection all traits are considered adaptive if the organism has successfully reproduced. There can be no non- semantic distinction between adaptations and byproducts, more specifically there can be no neutral traits. Byproducts are just adapations that are slightly less adaptive than the one it piggybacks on, ad infinium. The only maladaptive traits that can exist are cognitive ones like Schizophrenia.This holds true even if “current” means “relative to setting”. At that point you’d simply be arguing that NS is not a sufficient explanatory process by itself, not that it can’t explain any trait variation whatsoever. If that is indeed your position, I’d like to know, before I continue to waste my time on something so benign. Do you have quarrels with any other forms of selection?

      “no such laws exist (and “the environment” is not an agent either, so that’s false) therefore there are no laws of selection.”

      Environment is not an agent, it’s a system of nomological laws. Neutral organisms do not exist, and if they did they would be blind to the environment. The intensionality present is between maladative and adaptive Phenotypes which is explained by these laws.

      “we don’t know the mechanism of evolution. ”

      LOL of course we do! A chaotic environment, and the organism. We aren’t entirely sure which kinds of evolution affected which organisms temporally but that’s simply an issue of time and resources.

      “Here’s a good piece for you:”

      You don’t know what reductionism means. Name one example of a chemical or biological system that is not made of physical components. It’s impossible. Saying Biology is irreducible to chemistry means that You can’t commensurate it without appealing to chemistry, which at that point it’s no longer Biology. It’s semantic. P=Existence.

      “NS doesn’t “see” anything (it lacks a mind); when the traits are coextensive, then NS cannot distinguish between the free-rider and the fitness-enhancing trait. So NS doesn’t predict which traits an organism has. The theory of NS cannot explain or predict why a population of organisms has the traits they do. ”

      It’s a metaphor. Words aren’t things you autistic retard. You’re saying The environment cannot choose because it has no laws or mind, I’m saying it can’t choose because there is no option, Organisms are not coextensive with each other. Therefore there is no intensionality in the phrase “select for phenotype”

      “Shoot me an email next time you’re in New Jersey”

      I don’t think I’d ever go that that shit hole. Too many italians.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Your “the whole organism is what’s selected” shpeal is irrelevant; Fodor states that too: “The logic of the situation remains the same whether it’s an architect or Mother Nature or some psychologist doing the selecting; and it’s likewise independent of whether it is the organism’s phenotype that is being selected-for or it’s behavioral repertoire. The moral so far is: selection-for problems need to appeal to counterfactuals if they are to distinguish between coextensive hypotheses where it’s the theory of association or the theory of adaptation that raises the question.

      Selection-for problems cannot appeal to counterfactuals.

      At that point you’d simply be arguing that NS is not a sufficient explanatory process by itself, not that it can’t explain any trait variation whatsoever. If that is indeed your position, I’d like to know, before I continue to waste my time on something so benign.

      The argument establishes that the claim that NS is the mechanism of evolution cannot be true.

      it’s a system of nomological laws.

      The mechanism needs to distinguish between what’s selected and what’s selected-against—it cannot because “nature” and “the environment” have no minds and there are no laws of selection.

      Do you claim that reductionism is true—that is, that biology and chemistry will eventually be absorbed by physics.

      I “know what reductionism means”, my point is proven.

      I’m saying it can’t choose because there is no option

      There is an “option”, when it comes to coextensive phenotypic traits:

      When two traits are coextensive, how does NS distinguish the one that causes fitness from the trait that doesn’t (its linked free-rider)? It can’t because selection-for is an intensional notion.

      The theory of natural selection states that organisms are selected for the relative fitness of their phenotypes in relation to their ecologies. Phenotypic traits are selected for their role in causing increases in fitness corresponding with the following principle:

      If in a given ecology, organisms with T1 are more fit than organisms with T2, then, all else being equal, creatures with T1 will be selected and not creatures with T2. If both of these organisms are equally fit, then neither type of organism will be selected in preference to the other organism. But what if T1 and T2 are linked? Now suppose that T1 causes increased fitness and T2 does not. The traits are linked, so the correlation of T2 and fitness is the same as the correlation of T1 with fitness. Thus, all else being equal, if T1 is selected then so is T2. If T2 is selected then so is T1.

      Darwin should have said that traits are selected which cause alterations in fitness in a given ecology, not that they’re correlated with alterations in fitness. But then Darwin would have needed to identify a mechanism that in a given ecology responds differently to phenotypic traits depending on whether or not they are causes of alterations of fitness of merely correlated with the causes of the alterations of fitness. In lieu of a mechanism, there is no theory of natural selection.

      The theory of NS presumes a distinction between “selects” and “selects-for”, so for the theory to explain the distribution of phenotypic traits it must satisfy (1) or (2): (1) that NS has a mind/mental powers since intensionality is intentional, then intentional states have the ability to distinguish between coextensive traits; and (2) counter-factual supporting laws that phylogenetically link certain phylogenetic traits across different ecologies so that if you have one, you have the other. There is no agent of selection, (1) is discarded and there are no laws of selection so (2) is discarded so:

      P1) For NS to explain the distribution of phenotypic traits it must satisfy (1) or (2).
      P2) NS does not satisfy (1) or (2).
      C) NS does not explain trait fixation.

      You continuously repeating “The whole organism is what is selected” is irrelevant to this argument. No, “the environment” is not a set of nomological laws; it cannot distinguish between coextensive traits—which is the actual objection here.

      By the way:

      Darwin actually didn’t use the term “selected for” once in his original theory.

      Have you read On the Origin?

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “Your “the whole organism is what’s selected” shpeal is irrelevant; The mechanism needs to distinguish between what’s selected and what’s selected-against—it cannot because “nature” and “the environment” have no minds and there are no laws of selection.”

      It’s very relevant.

      Argument 1:

      P1: To differentiate traits correlated or causal to fitness, traits must be objectively commensurable to the most finite level.

      P2. You cannot commensurate traits to said level without deflating the selection coefficient.

      C1: “select for” is redundant in relevance to individual traits

      Argument 2:

      P1: Subsequently, selection can only be significant to clusters or the totality of traits on an organism

      P2: but how you define clusters is arbitrary

      C2: The distinction between adaption and byproduct is redundant in relevance to clusters of traits

      Argument 3:

      P1: Subsequently, the totality of traits is the only quantifiable target of selection

      P2: Reproduction is what mediates this selection

      P3: An animal either reproduces or it does not

      C1: Organisms cannot be coextensive to each other; The distinction between adaptation and byproduct organisms is redundant and nonsensical.

      Argument 4:

      P1: For the intensionality of maldaptive/beneficial to exist there must be laws of selection or intentionality behind the counterfactual(reproducing or not).

      P2: Organisms communicate and have intentionality

      P3: organisms compete and cooperate for reproductive success in environments.

      C4: Organisms give intentionality to selection

      Argument 5:

      P1: For the intensionality of maldaptive/beneficial to exist there must be laws of selection or intentionality behind the counterfactual(reproducing or not).

      P2: An environment is a system of interacting physical laws

      P3: The difficulty of reproducing is standardized by these laws(monkies in a tree and gravity)

      C1 The environment provides nomological laws of selection.

      “The argument establishes that the claim that NS is the mechanism of evolution cannot be true.”

      NS is not “the” mechanisms of evolution its one of many sub-processes that make up evolution.

      “Do you claim that reductionism is true—that is, that biology and chemistry will eventually be absorbed by physics.”

      What do you mean by absorbed? Most of everything in chemistry is explainable by physics, but at that point you’re not discussing chemistry anymore.

      “Have you read On the Origin?”

      Yes, Darwin agreed that it was the Organism that was selected not finite traits. “select for phenotype” wasn’t used until the 50’s.

      That’s how I know you haven’t.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Those aren’t “arguments”, they’re more like “wordsalads”:

      “Argument 1” is unsound; I’ve described “phenotypic trait” which is a trait that increases a creature’s fitness in relation to the current ecology it finds itself in; the term “select-for” is intensional and implies agential selection.

      “Argument 2” is false; the “distinction” between byproduct and adaptation are not “redundant”; a byproduct is selected, just not selected for. Both adaptationist and byproduct hypotheses are just as likely which is why an independent verifier is needed. But it’s not possible for there to be an independent verifier:

      P1) To test any selectionist/adaptationist claim you need to de-confound traits that are coextensive in the OEE.
      P2) To test the claim, one needs a time machine.
      P3) Time machines don’t exist.
      C) Therefore selectionist/adaptationist claims are not testable.

      P1) The hypothesis that trait X is a byproduct is falsifiable if and only if an observation exists by which we can verify that trait X moved to fixation in virtue of being a byproduct of “intelligence” and not in virtue of it being an adaptation.
      P2) No such observation exists because time machines exist (and even if they did exist there would still be no way of deconfounding linked traits in the OEE).
      C) Therefore byproduct and adaptationist hypotheses are just-so stories.

      P1) A just-so story is an ad hoc hypothesis—a hypothesis is ad hoc if it is not independently verified of the data it purports to explain.
      P2) The hypothesis that trait X is an adaptation is independently verifier if, and only if it succesfully predicts a novel fact (an observation which was not used in the contstruction of the hypothesis and would be expected if the trait were an adaptation and unexpected if the trait were a byproduct).
      P3) No prediction of that nature is possible because the hypothesis that trait X is an adaptation is underdetermined by all possible observations (meaning their are no hallmarks of adaptation).
      P4) Selectionist/adaptationist hypotheses cannot be independently verified because they are inherently ad hoc.
      C) Therefore selectionist/adaptationist hypotheses are just-so stories.

      “Argument 3” is irrelevant; doesn’t respond at all to my long screed above about t1 and t2. It doesn’t—at all—circumvent the problem of free-riders and the selection of coextensive traits.

      “Argument 4” is nonsensical.

      P1) Believers must have the concept of belief because in order to have beliefs one must recognize that they can be either true or false, one cannot understand objective truths without knowing the nature of beliefs.
      P2) So in order to develop an understanding of objective truth, one must be able to talk with others about the world, and so all believers must be language users.
      C) Other species lack language, therefore they don’t have beliefs.

      “Beliefs” are intentional states; animals lack minds; therefore animals lack beliefs and by proxy intentional states.

      You’re pushing something similar to Samir Okasha, but Fodor’s argument takes care of it. I’ve read Okasha’s recent book. It’s not convincing.

      It also, again, does not circumvent the problem of free-riders.

      “Argument 5”, too, doesn’t respond to my original t1/t2 argument either; I’ve already laid it out above and “Argument 5” does not address it.

      By the way:

      P1) Niches are individuated post hoc by reference to the phenotypes that live in said niche.
      P2) If the organisms weren’t there, the niche would not be there either.
      C) Therefore there is no fitness of phenotypes to lifestyles that explain said adaptation.

      Yes, Darwin agreed that it was the Organism that was selected not finite traits. “select for phenotype” wasn’t used until the 50’s.

      You’re relying on a bad article. I’ve read all of Darwin’s book and Darwin does indeed use intensional language when speaking about NS.

      Which edition did you read?

      Natural Selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest, rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working … at the improvement of each organic being.” (Darwin, 1859: 133, Barnes n Noble edition)

      Darwin was the first to employ agential thinking (what Samir Okasha terms ‘type 2 agential thinking”). Darwin’s analog with animal breeders and NS is nonsensical since animal breeders are agents and NS is not.

      I’ll probably give you the last word here. If I feel like replying I will.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      Do you? It doesn’t appear so from your comments. For example, you say “no intensionality in selects for phenotype.” Notice that “Selects for”just is an intensional context (compare “selects for” to merely “selects”). An intensional context is one in which co-referential terms cannot be substituted for one another without change in truth value.

      An example should make it clear. Suppose only and all chairs are green. It follows that if I “select” a chair, then I thereby “select” a green thing. We can substitute ‘chair’ and ‘green thing’ without changing the truth of the proposition (or sentence if you prefer). So “selects” is not intensional. Now take “select for” – If I “select for” a chair it doesn’t follow that I am selecting for a green thing. We cannot substitute ‘chair’ and ‘green thing’ in this proposition/sentence and still retain the same truth value. This is because it is in virtue of the object being a chair that I am choosing it rather than it being green.

      Another example just to make it perfectly clear. If I select a kangaroo, then it follows that I select an animal that lives in Australia. If I select for a Kangaroo, although I will thereby select an animal that lives in Australia, It does not entail that I have selected for an animal that lives in Australia. What I selected for was a kangaroo, the fact that kangaroos live in Australia simply tags along (it is a happy coincidence).

      “Selects” is an extensional notion whereas “selection-for” is an intensional notion.

      Also, notice that if you don’t have a notion of “a trait that’s selected for” then (a fortiori) you don’t have a notion of trait selection, so you can’t state the fundamental Darwinian thesis: that creatures have the traits they do because those traits are selected-for their connection with fitness. As Mayr writes: “’Selection-for’ specifies the particular phenotypic attribute and corresponding component of the genotype (DNA) that is responsible for the success of the selected individual.”

      Hope this helps clear up this misunderstanding.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “Those aren’t “arguments”, they’re more like “wordsalads”:”

      Come back when you know what an argument is. Your pathetic excuses are tiresome.

      “I’ve described “phenotypic trait” which is a trait that increases a creature’s fitness in relation to the current ecology it finds itself in”

      No. You cannot define a word by using that same word in the definition you prescribe it. Argument 1 is sound.

      “a byproduct is selected, just not selected for. ”

      Organisms are selected for their environments. Selection only acts on whole organisms and their populations. Intensionality only exists on that level. You’re attacking a strawman. The distinction isn’t wrong because you can’t actually differentiate between a vestigial trait and an adaptation, it’s wrong because you can’t quantify a trait without 1) lowering the selection coefficient rendering the dichotomy a waste of time, or 2) making the cut off arbitrary

      Your first Argument is a non-sequiter. You don’t need a time machine test the hypothesis, you only need it to be 100% sure of it. In science we don’t care abut being right, just less wrong.

      The second one is just as stupid. Determining whether something was selected is demonstrably easier than figuring out how something was selected. And you don’t need to islate T2,T3, and T4 to determine if T1 is an adaptation, because the former could also have been selected.

      ” doesn’t respond at all to my long screed above about t1 and t2.”

      It did address it, you just didn’t understand it. Your rant about t1 and t2 is irrelevant if selection doesn’t occur between traits. How hard is that to understand?

      ““Beliefs” are intentional states; animals lack minds; therefore animals lack beliefs and by proxy intentional st”

      Modern grammatical language is not a prerequisite for thought. Neither is symbolism in general, You can create thought with just sensory representations, in fact it is the main way we do so. Language and intelligence are not binary concepts, they exist on a spectrum with varying complexity. Animals have thoughts, beliefs and intentions they’re just less complex and qualitative versions of ours. Most Social creatures communicate, specifically to express intentions and beliefs to other individuals in their groups. Like birds or primates who make vocalizations to warn their population of incoming threats. Even if we assume your silly premise, Humans do have minds, which means there is Intentionality to NS at least regarding humans. Sexual selection is a form of NS but instead of relying on environmental fluctuations it relies on the intentionality of other organisms.

      You didn’t actually understand any of my arguments

      Sad.

      They proved 3 points:

      1.Selection acts on whole organisms

      1. Subsequently there is no free rider problem
      2. The intensionality that does exist is completely explainable by the Environment and other organisms.

      “You’re relying on a bad article. I’ve read all of Darwin’s book and Darwin does indeed use intensional language when speaking about NS.”

      I didn’t read an article. I’m simply more educated in Biology than you are. I never said he didn’t use intensional language, he just didn’t use the kind that you or fodor are referring to.

      “Which edition did you read?”

      I don’t remember, that was back when I was debating creationists. Some things never change though 🙂

      “I’ll probably give you the last word here. If I feel like replying I will.”

      You’re not fooling anyone.

      Bucky,

      “Do you? ”

      Clearly, my statement was in reference to coextensive traits. That kind of intensionality is non-existent if selection acts on the phenotype level.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      “Clearly, my statement was in reference to coextensive traits. That kind of intensionality is non-existent if selection acts on the phenotype level.”

      There is only one kind of intensionality (with an s) – it’s the kind I just described to you. Any mechanism that can differentiate between coextensive traits, properties, terms, referents, or what-have-you will ipso facto be an intensional mechanism.

      A phenotype just is a bundle of traits. The mechanism of natural selection is the driving force behind which traits become phenotypic. NS does not act on whole organisms (although it is true that it is organisms and populations of organisms that die or survive). NS selects traits in populations. It is the traits that cause the organism’s fitness. Now everyone and their grandmother knows that genetic hitchhiking is real. Some traits come along for the ride even though they are not causes of fitness (these freerider traits are correlated with traits that cause fitness). The problem is, that TNS posits exogenous ecological selection pressures as the mechanism or filter. The reason this is a problem is because the exogenous selection pressures explain “selection of” both the free-rider and the fitness causing trait without being able to say anything different about the trait that is “selected for.”

      An example might make it clear: Suppose A-creatures have the phenotypic trait of long legs, suppose this is, as a matter of fact, fitness enhancing because the long legs allow the creatures to run faster thereby being able to avoid predators. Suppose further that long-leggedness is coextensive with change in leg colour, and suppose that the leg colour has no bearing on fitness. Now as far as the environment is concerned both traits are equally correlated with fitness – it cannot distinguish which is the cause of fitness and which is the mere free-rider. The same story justifies both: (i) The A-creatures with long legs are able to run faster than the A-creatures without long legs, and can avoid predators chasing them, this allows them to produce more offspring and pass along said trait to the next generation. (ii) The A-creatures with yellow legs are able to run faster than the A-creatures without yellow legs, and can avoid predators chasing them, this allows them to produce more offspring and pass along said trait to the next generation. Now it may be intuitive, true, and knowable by us that it is the long-leggedness that is a cause of fitness rather than the yellow-leggedness, but notice that the narrative based on ecological variables explains equally the proliferation of both traits (the fit and the free-rider). As far as the mechanism is concerned both are selected, and although it is true that one is selected-for, the mechanism so sketched doesn’t tell you which. The mechanism (exogenous ecological or environmental variables) simply cannot cash in on “selection-for” even though it requires such a concept in order to properly explain phenotypic trait fixation in virtue of fitness. The question isn’t an epistemic one, the question is whether one’s pet theory has the tools available to it to distinguish coextensive traits where only one is a cause of fitness and the other is a mere ride-along.

      Like

  4. (((jerry fodor))). sad!

    Dennett states that Fodor’s discussion of Gould and Lewontin’s spandrel argument misrepresents that argument, stating “that far from suggesting an alternative to adaptationism, the very concept of a spandrel depends on there being adaptations”.

    “[t]he rival mechanisms Fodor cites are supplements to natural selection, not replacements”, and that “Evo-devo is not an alternative to adaptation; rather, it is a way to explain how the genes mechanistically produce adaptations.”

    Blackburn writes that “His problem is fortunately quite easily solved […] Two traits may be found together in nature, but one can play a causal role in producing a reproductive advantage, when the other does not.”

    The evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne describes this book as “a profoundly misguided critique of natural selection”[21] and “as biologically uninformed as it is strident”.[22]

    Because they are prominent in their own fields, some readers may suppose that they are authorities on evolution who have written a profound and important book. They aren’t, and it isn’t.[23]

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Dennet is incoherent; Coyne says the same things about every challenge to the MS; adaptationism isn’t a coherent hypothesis (see the argument by Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini); regarding Blackburn’s objection: we have minds, NS does not so NS cannot select-for the fitness-enhancing trait or a mere free-rider coextensive with the adaptive trait.

      Nevermind the fact that most critics misconstrue the argument. See An Outline of the Fodor & Piattelli-Palmarini Argument Against Natural Selection.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      ” Coyne says the same things about every challenge to the MS”

      Because all of them rely on speculation and run counter to the majority of evidence that exists.

      “Nevermind the fact that most critics misconstrue the argument. See”

      That’s absolutely false. That’s a copout used by Fodor to explain his own humiliation. Fodor is no longer taken seriously, he was once considered entertaining and was respected until he showcased a complete lack of understanding in basic Evolutionary Biology, Biochemistry, and even Philosophy.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Because all of them rely on speculation and run counter to the majority of evidence that exists.

      The argument presented is conceptual and therefore evidence is irrelevant to the objection.

      That’s absolutely false.

      Nope.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “therefore evidence is irrelevant to the objection.”

      Either way I’ve already proven the argument is wrong conceptually. It misdefines the terms it attempts to denounce, which causes the rest of the argument to fall apart.

      “Nope.”

      Yup. Fodor is a hack

      Deal with it.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Either way I’ve already proven the argument is wrong conceptually. It misdefines the terms it attempts to denounce, which causes the rest of the argument to fall apart.

      What does it misdefine? Where is the misdefinition in the 12-point argument? There are no “laws for selection-for” and no causal mechanism can do what natural selection claims “selection-for” does therefore NS is not mechanistic Nevermind the fact that NS does not fit neither of the dominant concepts of “mechanism”, therefore NS is not mechanistic since it does not even fit either of the definitions of mechanism.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “What does it misdefine? Where is the misdefinition in the 12-point argument? There are no “laws for selection-for” and no causal mechanism can do what natural selection claims “selection-for” does therefore NS is not mechanistic Nevermind the fact that NS does not fit neither of the dominant concepts of “mechanism”, therefore NS is not mechanistic since it does not even fit either of the definitions of mechanism.”

      I addressed all of this in the other new comment, no need to have two discussions about the same exact thing.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “There is only one kind of intensionality”

      No shit. “Kind” meant in this instance not type

      “Any mechanism that can differentiate between coextensive traits, properties, terms, referents, or what-have-you will ipso facto be an intensional mechanism.”

      I’m aware, but are you aware that NS is not a mechanism? It’s actually an emergent process. The environment does most of the selecting as you ironically(is that irony?) admitted.

      “A phenotype just is a bundle of traits. The mechanism of natural selection is the driving force behind which traits become phenotypic. NS does not act on whole organisms (although it is true that it is organisms and populations of organisms that die or survive). NS selects traits in populations. It is the traits that cause the organism’s fitness. ”

      Fitness is just an individual’s ability to reproduce. All traits that comprise an organisms phenotype are coextensive with each other. This effect is a direct consequence of selection occurring on the phenotypic level not on the level of individual traits. Organisms are not modular entities they’re holistic structures. Subsequently you can look at varying frequencies of trait fixation between populations but what is considered a “trait” will always be arbitrary. You can’t actually make a trait objectively commensurable without lowering the fitness advantage that it could potentially gain, and in Unitary organisms like Humans, selection is rarely if ever geared toward singular changes. NS sufficiently explains the advantage of a an adaptive phenotype to a particular environment, but cannot sufficiently explain the advantage of an adaptive trait within a population to a specific environment.

      You’re aware that Sexual selection is literally NS with intention right?

      “The question isn’t an epistemic one, the question is whether one’s pet theory has the tools available to it to distinguish coextensive traits where only one is a cause of fitness and the other is a mere ride-along.”

      That sounds like an epistemic issue…Even then, if it’s not conceptual or empirical, then what significance does it have? We can in fact differentiate between a byproduct and adaptation, Even if NS can’t.So i fail to see how Fodor’s argument is relevant to Evolution.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      Apologies on the length of this comment (I just want to cover my bases)

      “I’m aware, but are you aware that NS is not a mechanism?”

      Please see E. Mayr “What Evolution is” (2001) – “Darwin didn’t just present ‘a well-thought-out theory of evolution. Most importantly, he also proposed a theory of causation, the theory of natural selection.” Alternatively you could just University of Berkeley’s ‘understanding evolution’ website and click on Natural Selection. The first sentence reads “Natural selection is one of the basic mechanisms of evolution.” See also, Michealis Michael “Evolution By Natural Selection” quoted below – notice the term “mechanism” in the quote.

      “The environment does most of the selecting”

      Yes, that is the problem. The ecological (exogenous) selection pressures explain in exactly the same way the proliferation of both the fit and the free-rider trait. The flow of causation of evolution is supposed to go through the fit trait. So a mechanism (that explains evolution) that selects for traits based on their fitness must be able to distinguish the casual traits from mere correlates of causal traits. Ecological selectors can’t distinguish these because the magnitude of proliferation of both traits relative to ecological selectors is exactly the same. In other words, can exogenous selectors break coextensions? Answer: No. why? For the simple reason that whatever story is told by reference to exogenous selection pressures in order to explain one trait can equally be told to explain the other so long as both traits are linked. From the outside of the organism both situations look exactly the same. The mechanism cannot tell the fit from the free-rider. In philosophical jargon: extensions don’t determine intensions.

      “All traits that comprise an organisms phenotype are coextensive with each other.”

      Exactly! This is what makes Fodor’s argument effective. His argument doesn’t just apply to a few cases (as some critics suggest). Rather, as Fodor himself has pointed out numerous times, the argument is completely general since all traits that belong to a creature’s phenotype are ipso facto correlated with fitness. Correlation isn’t just happening occasionally, it happens all the time because every trait of a phenotype is thereby correlated with any and all other traits of the phenotype.

      “This effect is a direct consequence of selection occurring on the phenotypic level not on the level of individual traits.”

      This is just plain wrong. It is variation in traits (not whole phenotypes) in conjunction with differential reproduction (caused largely by ecological variables) that determine which traits get passed along to the next generation and eventually become phenotypic – See again, Berkeley’s “Understanding Evolution” website. The beetles with the trait of a green shell get gobbled up while the beetles with the brown shell trait survive and pass along this trait to the next generation. Selection here, isn’t acting on the beetles whole phenotype (since this would include a multitude of other traits), rather, the selection pressures (predation) are acting on the individual trait of shell colour.

      “That sounds like an epistemic issue…Even then, if it’s not conceptual or empirical, then what significance does it have? We can in fact differentiate between a byproduct and adaptation, Even if NS can’t.So i fail to see how Fodor’s argument is relevant to Evolution.”

      Fodor’s argument is not about what WE can know. Hence, the argument is not an epistemic one. Epistemology is about knowledge. Fodor’s argument is a conceptual argument. The argument is about the structure of TNS and the explanatory power (or lack thereof) of TNS. Remember, Fodor is jumping up and down on two points: 1) There IS a fact of the matter about which traits cause fitness. and 2) There is nothing stopping us from finding out (knowing) which traits cause fitness. There are all kinds of ways that we can find out which traits are causes of fitness and which are correlates of causes of fitness. Fodor’s point is that we don’t (and indeed can’t) use TNS to tell us which are causes and which are correlates of causes because TNS can’t say anything different about either one.

      Notice that Natural Selection is supposed to be an explanatory theory. It is supposed to explain why we see creatures with the phenotypic traits that they have. As Michaelis Michael writes in ‘Evolution by Natural Selection’: “the whole point of natural selection is to provide an explanation, a mechanism that can explain the sorts of change associated with the two phenomena Darwin tried to explain: the variation and degree of adaption manifested by the biological world.” (Notice in passing, the term “mechanism”). The flow of causation of evolution is supposed to go through the fit trait. So a mechanism (that explains evolution) that selects for traits based on their fitness must be able to distinguish the casual traits from mere correlates of causal traits. Ecological selectors can’t distinguish these because the magnitude of proliferation of both traits relative to ecological selectors is exactly the same. What could distinguish the trait that is a cause of fitness from the trait that is a correlate of a cause of fitness? A mechanism that either has a mind, or makes use of nomological laws. There is neither mind in evolution nor laws of selection. So a mechanism that filters by ecological pressure cannot distinguish the cause of fitness from mere correlates of causes of fitness.

      Put another way: If the theory is going to be a causal explanatory theory of phenotypic trait fixation, then it needs to be sensitive to causes vs correlates. The theory (and the selection pressures posited by the theory) need to offer a different explanation for the fixation of fit traits, than it does for correlates of fit traits. But as I have explained above (and in a different comment), exogenous selection pressures can’t provide a different explanation. So the theory, as it is currently formulated, cannot explain phenotypic trait fixation. (I suspect Fodor is correct in that we cannot have a fully generalizable scientific theory of trait fixation, rather what we have is individual causal histories of how certain traits become fixated in certain creatures in certain ecologies).

      I want to put Fodor’s argument one further time in a slightly different way before ending this comment:

      TNS is supposed to be an explanatory theory. More importantly, NS is supposed to be the causal mechanism that explains why phenotypes (bundles of traits) and the creatures that have them proliferate. So TNS says something about causation rather than simply correlation. If you don’t have “selection for,” then you don’t have a way to differentiate between coexstensive traits where only one is a cause of fitness (In other words, you don’t have a way to differentiate between cause and correlation). If you don’t differentiate between which trait is selected for being a cause of fitness and which is a free-rider, then you don’t have a mechanism (or theory) that explains phenotypic distribution in virtue of fitness (since NS is supposed to explain the traits that become part of the phenotype). So, TNS must presuppose “selection for.” The problem is that a causal mechanism that requires or makes use of “selection for” (or in other words, a causal mechanism that is intensional with an ‘S’ such that it can differentiate between coexstensive properties, traits, predicates, referents, etc.) needs to appeal either to (a) a mind, or (b) nomological laws…. and there is neither of these at the biological level. So TNS cannot cash the kind of causal mechanism it needs to cash in order for NS to do that thing it purports to do (explain phenotypic variation across species and ecologies).

      One final point, Fodor isn’t attacking evolution. Fodor’s argument is only against the structure and explanatory power of Natural Selection as it is currently formulated in the neo-darwinian or new-synthesis traditions.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “Apologies on the length of this comment (I just want to cover my bases)”

      No worries I’ve had to deal with much longer and more superfluous responses in the past. I feel as though I should cation when covering your bases, because you may be obfuscating the issue at hand.

      “Please see E. Mayr”

      You’re misunderstanding. I know how evolution works, which is precisely why i am saying it is not a mechanism. Environment and the organisms are the mechanisms that create changes in phenotype variation over time. That Entire process is called evolution.

      “The beetles with the trait of a green shell get gobbled up while the beetles with the brown shell trait survive and pass along this trait to the next generation. Selection here, isn’t acting on the beetles whole phenotype (since this would include a multitude of other traits),”

      You need to ask yourself two questions, which then may clear some of your misconceptions:

      1) How are genes inherited?

      2) Why are are all traits in an organism coextensive?

      In reality all traits are selected, just some are less so than to others. A beetle with a brown shell is not adaptive in that context if it also has a genetic abnormality that causes it to be missing legs.

      “There is neither mind in evolution nor laws of selection”

      Well I consider reproduction a law of selection. So Sexual selection(a type of NS) appeases both conditions.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      “You’re misunderstanding. I know how evolution works, which is precisely why i am saying it is not a mechanism. Environment and the organisms are the mechanisms that create changes in phenotype variation over time.”

      While evolution isn’t itself a mechanism, the processes that drive evolution (one of which, and the most important, is Natural Selection) are mechanisms. Indeed, they have to be if we subscribe to the scientific materialist world view (which I take is common ground in this discussion). The theory of Natural Selection is a mechanistic theory which posits ecological selection pressures as the determiners of fitness. See the following:

      https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_25

      https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution-today/how-does-natural-selection-work/

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection

      https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/bellpet/about/natural-selection/

      All of the above links specifically designate natural selection as a mechanism. There isn’t anything else for natural selection to be but a mechanism.

      “1) How are genes inherited?”

      The argument doesn’t turn on how genes are inherited. All that matters to Fodor’s argument is just that some genes are inherited.

      “2) Why are all traits in an organism coextensive?”

      Again, it doesn’t matter to the argument why (“how”rather than “why” is the more apt term here) all traits in an organism are coexstensive. The fact that they are follows from the definition of coextensive. Fodor’s argument rears its head so long as there is coexstensive traits.

      “In reality all traits are selected, just some are less so than to others.”

      Again, it is true that all traits are selected (no one is denying this), but the Darwinian thesis says that some traits are “selected for” being causes of fitness. Alternatively you can say that some traits are “selected against” but “selection against” is also intensional so it won’t help circumvent Fodor’s argument. A theory which purports to give the mechanism which explains trait fixation in virtue of fitness needs to be able to distinguish (offer different explanations for) those traits that are the fitness causing traits, from the merely correlated free-riding traits. An explanation via exogenous selection pressures can’t distinguish the fit from the free-rider because the magnitude of correlation is the same for both, and the exogenous selectors only have access to correlation. Now if there was a mind in the mechanism, so to speak, as there is with artificial selection, then there would be no issue because the selection vs selection-for distinction would be cashed through the intentions of the mind/breeder. Obviously we don’t want a mind here so lets move on to the second option:

      Laws of selection.

      Reproduction isn’t a nomological (necessary ) law. It is hugely contingent whether or not an organism can reproduce. The kind of laws that would meet the criteria are laws specifiable in the vocabulary of biology that relate phenotypic traits per se to fitness – generalizable laws of the form ‘P1 phenotypes are more likely to be fit than P2 phenotypes,’ or ‘trait 1 causes fitness in ecology E, but trait 2 doesn’t;’ or ‘in ecology E T1’s are selected and T2’s aren’t;’ or ‘trait T in ecology E increases fitness;’ or Fodor’s paradigm example of ‘All else equal, the probability that a t1 wins a competition with a t2 in ecological situation E is p’ or something similar. The trouble is, is that there are no such laws at the biological level; laws about the relative fitness of phenotypes. Laws that specify environmental features and phenotypic features and then quantify over their connections. The reason for thinking there are no such laws (besides the general consensus in the biology literature saying there are no such laws – again see Mayr on this), is that the fitness of given trait for a given creature is massively context sensitive. The trait of having long legs in one ecology might be helpful, while in another ecology the trait might be neutral or deleterious. Indeed, even in the same ecology long-leggedness might be helpful to one kind of creature while being neutral or deleterious to another creature. A law of selection – a law that governs fitness of traits – needs to apply across ecologies and across species; said laws must determine which traits win which competitions in which ecological situation. The point is simply that although leg length may affect fitness; it does not follow that there are laws that determine the fitness of a creature as a function of leg length.

      Nomological laws just are intensional entities. If there were nomological laws at the biological level that link ecological variables and their effects on fitness, then a mechanism that can make use of said laws would be sensitive to coexstensive traits. However, as I have just explained, there haven’t been any discovered yet and it doesn’t appear hopeful that there will be anytime soon.

      Like

  5. natural selection is just another way of saying, “genetic change at population level does not happen randomly.”

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      There is still the problem of free-riders.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “(one of which, and the most important, is Natural Selection) are mechanisms. ”

      Natural selection is a kind of evolution, the mechanism is still Ecological factors, not NS. NS is a process because it cannot occur without the final result.

      “The argument doesn’t turn on how genes are inherited. All that matters to Fodor’s argument is just that some genes are inherited.

      “2) Why are all traits in an organism coextensive?”

      Again, it doesn’t matter to the argument why (”

      Those were not to be responded too separately, I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.

      It actually maters an lot “why” or “how” traits are coextensive. I understand the the level of selection within Evolutionary biology is a controversial subject, but Darwin(who Fodor is specifically criticizing) clearly endorsed the idea of selection on the individual level, not a trait specific one. NS Explanatory power is not diminished in the lightest because it’s purpose was never to sufficiently (important fucking word here) explain trait variation. In fact it only needs to explain phenotypes made by exogenous factors. Coextensiveness is untenable without selection occurring on that level. It’s literally impossible. This is also why there is no difference between selected and selected for. All traits have been selected for. Selection is just reproduction. This is why i called it a law because it is the only condition of selection. Sober(2010) had a good refutation on the supposed nonexistence of selection laws:

      This is a poor argument. The gravitational force now acting on the earth depends on the mass of the sun, the moon, the stars, and everything else. It does not follow that there are no laws of gravity, only that the laws need to have numerous placeholders. FP may object to this analogy because it is always the mass of these various objects and their distances from the earth that are relevant to the gravitational force that the earth experiences. My reply is that this makes no difference. The fact that an effect has numerous complexly interacting causes does not show that there are no laws about this complex cause-effect relation. Context sensitivity is no argument for lawlessness.

      https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/656020?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

      I suggest you read his refutation of it. Also I’,m not sure why you’ve been ignoring my point about SS as a type of NS with intention behind trait variation?

      Since organisms cannot be coextensive there is no intensionality present.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      “Natural selection is a kind of evolution, the mechanism is still Ecological factors, not NS. NS is a process because it cannot occur without the final result.”

      This comment is so hopelessly confused that I really don’t know where to begin. Note that in the academic biology literature NS is clearly understood to be a mechanism. It is a mechanistic process (it has to be if we are all good naturalists here). If you can’t accept this, then there isn’t much point arguing with Fodor or proponents of his argument. Ecological factors are part of natural selection, not something separate from it. And x isn’t a process because it cannot occur without a final result. Many processes don’t have final results. So I am not sure what you mean by the last sentence.

      “Those were not to be responded too separately, I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.”

      Perhaps I did. That would be a shame. But then again, its not at all clear how the point is relevant to Fodor’s argument.

      “selection on the individual level, not a trait specific one.”

      This is a common mistake. Selection acts on phenotypes. Phenotypes just are an organisms physical traits. The central precept of natural selection is that variation exists in a population and that because certain individuals (with certain traits) are better at staying alive, they have a better chance of surviving and are more efficient at passing on their genes (the expression of which are traits). Over the course of generations, natural selection can cause directional change in a trait, favor the extremes in a trait, or reduce variation in the population. Two of the basic assumptions of natural selection are that variation in a trait is possible, and that a given expression of a trait is able to be inherited.

      “Explanatory power is not diminished in the lightest because it’s purpose was never to sufficiently (important fucking word here) explain trait variation. In fact it only needs to explain phenotypes made by exogenous factors.”

      And it won’t be able to explain phenotypes made by exogenous factors if it can’t explain traits of the phenotypes that are selected-for. TNS certainly is proposed as the (mechanistic) explanation for the fixation of phenotypic traits (this is not up for debate among biologists – it is widely accepted in the literature). Again, if you can’t accept this, then there isn’t much point engaging Fodor’s argument.

      “This is also why there is no difference between selected and selected for. All traits have been selected for.”

      I gave a couple of examples regarding the difference between selection and selection-for already. Moreover, if NS “selected for” everything such that there was no difference between traits merely selected and traits selected for their being a cause of fitness, then this would mean that, according to NS, the heart was selected for making thump-thump noises just as it was (or in the same way) as the heart was selected for pumping blood. But then the whole idea that fitness enhancing traits will be more likely to proliferate comes crashing down because everything is going to be selected for.

      Regarding Sober’s “refutation,” I will just let Fodor answer this:

      “Actually what he says is not that are such laws, but that we haven’t shown that there aren’t. And indeed we haven’t. Since the issue is entirely empirical, there’s no question of demonstrative arguments on either side. There are, however, straws in the wind, and we think they’re blowing our way.Here are two reasons for doubting that there are laws of evolution. The first is that there seem to be no examples of such laws. That is easily explained on the assumption that, in fact, there are no such laws. The second is that, if there were laws of evolution,they would have to be horrendously complicated. A long tradition of modeling evolution has identified at least the following factors, among others: effective population size,density-dependent selection, drift with or without selection, migration, gene flow and horizontal transmission, the diffusion of neutral mutations, mutational bias, biased gene conversion, differentials in fertility, sexual selection, variable sex ratios, the overlap of fertile generations, the fixation of deleterious alleles, phenotypic plasticity, and various kinds of epistasis (gene-gene interactions). Sober says (rightly) that complexity isn’t, in and of itself, an argument against the putative laws. But the kind of complexity that laws of evolution would require is, we think, without precedent in the other sciences. First of all, laws of evolution would have to take into consideration interactions at vastly heterogeneous levels: molecule to molecule, gene to gene, gene to cell, cell to cell,developmental module to developmental module, tissue to tissue, organism to organisms of the same species, organism to organisms of different species, and all these to the local ecology. The heterogeneity concerns both sheer size (from Angstroms to miles) and the conceptualization of the relevant kinds.”

      Now read/insert Sober’s quote that you gave above…. and Fodor’s response:

      “Well, of course there are laws of gravity; principally that the gravitational force between objects varies directly with their total mass and inversely with the square of their distance. Notice, however, that this law is quite simple; in particular, it has no ‘placeholders’ for the sun, the moon, the Earth or anything else except the masses and distances of the objects involved. That’s why the law of gravity would be unaffected even if there weren’t the sun, the moon, or the earth. What goes on when explanations appeal to laws is something like this: there are variables for relevant properties of things that fall under the laws; and there are specifications of the “initial conditions” in some domain to which the laws apply. Neither the moon nor its mass gets mentioned by the laws of gravity; but both do get mentioned in specifying the conditions that obtain when the theory of gravity is used to predict the gravitational force between (eg.) the moon and the earth. In consequence, the laws of gravity have very many fewer “place holders” than there are things in the universe to which they apply. We won’t argue for this view; but please take our word for it that a lot depends on getting it straight.So now the question arises whether this picture is plausible for the (putative)evolutionary laws of trait fixation. We think it pretty clearly isn’t; not, however, because there are very many creatures to which the laws would have to apply, and very many environmental features with which such creatures may interact. Rather, it’s because of the awesome heterogeneity of levels and kinds we have mentioned, and of the ways in which interactions of creatures with their environment depend on what kind of creature it is and what kind of environment it is interacting with. As we saw two paragraphs back,laws don’t need place-holders for each thing that falls under them, but they do need placeholders for each kind of thing that falls under them.

      To make the point slightly differently, there are typically many kinds of creatures that can share an environment, and many kinds of environments that creatures can share.(We’re told that more than ten thousand species share Central Park). That being so, the putative laws that determine fitness as a function of such interactions would have to be complicated in precisely the way that the laws of gravity are not: They would need “placeholders” for each of the kind of creatures that they apply to and for each kind of environment that the creatures can interact with. And, to repeat, though the number of things a law applies to doesn’t determine how many placeholders it needs, how many kinds of things it applies to does. Given all that, could there be such laws about how creature/environment interactions determine fitness? In principle, sure there could. But are there such laws? We think the probability is asymptotically close to nil. The kind of complexity that does tell against a putative law is the kind that proliferates kinds beyond necessity.”

      “Also I’m not sure why you’ve been ignoring my point about SS as a type of NS with intention behind trait variation?”

      Organisms (humans in artificial selection aside) don’t intend for certain traits to be passed along. If animals have intentions, the intentions are probably rather primitive like the intention to mate. The content of the intention needs to specify which of the coexstensive traits were the ones intended to be passed along (which are the fit) from the traits that come along for the ride. An animals intention to mate won’t help. Given that you have raised this as a possible answer to Fodor’s argument, says to me that you don’t really understand the argument, since if you did understand the argument, you would see that an animals intention to mate won’t help distinguish between coexstansive traits (compare this intention, with a humans intention (in artificial selection) selecting for a shot snout in a dog, but this comes along with a fluffy tale – the intention for short snout distinguish’s what is selected-for from the free riding fluffy tale).

      Out of interest, here is a discussion between Fodor and Sober on the book/argument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKVwg5pxmIM&t=79s

      Like

  6. so you look at allele frequencies or frequencies of whatever variations in the genome for a population over time and you look at mutations at the individual level.

    what you will find is…

    anus 1. the frequencies do NOT change according a uniform distribution nor any random variable’s distribution.

    anus 2. de novo mutations will have a near uniform distribution across the chromosome.

    sorry i had to put “anus” before the numbers or they’d be deleted.

    Like

    • King meLo says:

      “This comment is so hopelessly confused that I really don’t know where to begin.”

      You can begin by dropping the pretentious and belittling tone. I don’t care what the literature says, that is not an argument in your favor.

      “Ecological factors are part of natural selection, not something separate from it. And x isn’t a process because it cannot occur without a final result. Many processes don’t have final results. So I am not sure what you mean by the last sentence.”

      Again you’ve missed the point. NS is a process because it has multiple parts. It’s emergent.

      “This is a common mistake. ”

      No. The only condition of selection is Reproduction. An arm cannot reproduce. You’re confusing how NS actually works with how Scientists compartmentalize it.

      “I gave a couple of examples regarding the difference between selection and selection-for already”

      No you haven’t. You don’t know whether “yellow legs” were selected for.

      “Now read/insert Sober’s quote that you gave above…. and Fodor’s response:”

      I don’t think you actually read Sober’s response. Fodor’s reply misses the point. It’s an argument from ignorance, god of the gaps, irreducible complexity. Context sensitivity does not imply that there are no laws.

      “But then the whole idea that fitness enhancing traits will be more likely to proliferate comes crashing down because everything is going to be selected for.”

      No, because some traits are more selected for than others. Select for is not a with or without phenomena.

      ” says to me that you don’t really understand the argument, since if you did understand the argument, you would see that an animals intention to mate won’t help distinguish between coexstansive traits (compare this intention, with a humans intention (in artificial selection) selecting for a shot snout in a dog, but this comes along with a fluffy tale”

      I don’t think you understand the criticism. Sexual selection is when an organism intentionally mates with another that has a specific trait. In this instance the selection has intentionality behind it. Sexual selection is a type of NS.

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      Apologies on the wait for a reply. Have been hard at work at law school.

      “You can begin by dropping the pretentious and belittling tone.”

      I do apologize if you take it to be such. But when you go on to say: “I don’t care what the literature says,” It is hard to take your comments seriously.

      “that is not an argument in your favor.”

      It most certainly is. Having scientific literature back up ones claims certainly is a point in ones’ favour. At least, if it isn’t a point in my favour, you haven’t shown it to be so.

      “NS is a process because it has multiple parts. It’s emergent.”

      Sure it’s a process. But importantly, it is a mechanistic process – this isn’t up for debate among biologists nor philosophers of science. Moreover, just because something has multiple parts it doesn’t make that thing a process. A pair of jeans has multiple parts, but a pair of jeans isn’t a process. Adding that it’s emergent doesn’t help either.

      No.

      Out of interest (perhaps this is piece of psychology), but the reason you make this mistake is probably because, by your own admission, you “don’t care what the literature says.” Perhaps if you changed this attitude, then less mistakes would be made on your part.

      “An arm cannot reproduce.”

      No one is saying that an arm can reproduce champ.

      “You’re confusing how NS actually works with how Scientists compartmentalize it.”

      Such a confusion is highly improbable. I took how NS works by reference to the relevant academic literature (again see Mayr and Michael to name just two). If there is a confusion, please point it out to both me, and of course, to them as well (while your at it, you may as well write a book telling every other biologist and philosopher of science about their confusion regarding how NS works).

      “No you haven’t.”

      Do please re-read the above conversation. However, I will also give another example. If I “select” a green bottle, and all and only green bottles contain beer, then I thereby “select” beer. But if I “select for” a green bottle, this does not entail that I “select for” beer. The difference between “selects” and “selects for” (or between extension and intension) is a matter of logic.

      “You don’t know whether “yellow legs” were selected for.”

      Again, the argument is not about what I or anyone else knows. The argument is not an epistemological argument. The argument is about the explanatory power of the theory (and the processes posited by the theory). The argument being that since the processes of NS can only make good on the notion of “selection” and not “selection for,” then the theory cannot discriminate between the explanatory outcome from the redundant correlated (co-extensively linked) outcome. Ergo, it cannot explain the proliferation of traits in virtue of fitness compared to the ride along traits. Essentially “selection,” and so the processes posited by the theory of natural selection, are not sensitive to differences in explanatory power.

      “Context sensitivity does not imply that there are no laws.”

      Fodor explained this point to Sober in their discussion which I linked. However, I will also explain it to you. The point about complex sensitivity turns on a underlying point: In order to have laws (or even a law) of selection you would have to be able to pick features of the context or ecology and features of the phenotype such that in general, or most of the time, or strictly (depending on how you view these laws), if you get one feature, then you get the other (better yet if and only if you get one, then you get the other). In other words, you need an appropriate taxonomy of both the environment/ecology (not to confuse the two) and phenotype such that you get the counterfactual or bi-conditional support. Again, no biologist (or anyone for that matter) thinks that there are such relationships. The question is just whether you think ever finding such laws, given the heterogeneity (hence complex sensitivity) of phenotypes and environments, is likely. And so far, it is appears to be highly unlikely.

      “No, because some traits are more selected for than others. Select for is not a with or without phenomena.”

      None of this makes any sense to me. Please do elucidate your view here.

      “I don’t think you understand the criticism. Sexual selection is when an organism intentionally mates with another that has a specific trait.”

      Unless the animal in question has an intention to pass on a specific trait to its offspring (something that as far as we know, only humans have), then this won’t help. Again, the content of the intention is important. And even if such an intention in animals was found, it is not clear this would help defeat Fodor’s argument since it is the mechanism itself that needs to have an intention – in other words, there needs to be an intention somewhere in the theory of evolution that distinguishes the fitness enhancing traits from the correlates in order to give the required explanatory power. Unless you want to go the creationist route, this kind of intention is ruled out.

      Remember that Darwin tried to give a theory about what all instances of adaptation have in common. The trouble is that, when you do this level of abstraction with extensional processes you land up with a vacuous theory. This seems to stand apart from the logical point that you cannot posit extensional processes in order to explain an intensional phenomena. Although I could be wrong on this last point regarding the “this seems to stand apart” – they may actually flow from one to the other.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “But when you go on to say: “I don’t care what the literature says,” It is hard to take your comments seriously.”

      That’s funny, I tend not to take people seriously when they lack the ability to think for themselves. It takes considerable levels of ignorance to not provide any reasoning for accepting a definition other than “this guy said so”.

      Exogenous factors are some of the mechanisms of trait variation. The entire process is called NS.

      “Having scientific literature back up ones claims certainly is a point in ones’ favour. ”

      It’s not an empirical matter.

      “Out of interest (perhaps this is piece of psychology), but the reason you make this mistake is probably because, by your own admission, you “don’t care what the literature says.””

      I caution you to not make the same mistake as RR and assume that when someone disagrees with something in the literature, it means they have not read it. I’d hate to see you embarrass yourself like he has lately.

      “No one is saying that an arm can reproduce champ. I took how NS works by reference to the relevant academic literature. None of this makes any sense to me. Please do elucidate your view here.”

      I’ll go ahead and try to explain what you’re clearly not understanding.

      Saying a trait is selected or selected for and another is not, is a nonsensical statement. In a successfully reproducing organism all of it’s traits have been selected because they have all been passed down to the offspring. Now, some traits over time go under more change than others, hence why Selection for is relative, not absolute. This is also why you get confused at the terminology Scientists use, when describing trait variation. You assume they’re agreeing with you, in reality, you don’t actually understand the context of what they’re saying. Words aren’t things.

      Fodor’s argument is not hard to understand. My criticism of it is. I’m more concerned with his misconceptions on Evolution in general and his subsequently false premises than I am with his conclusions. I actually agree with his conclusion to an extent.

      “Do please re-read the above conversation.”

      I’m not sure why. i didn’t miss anything the first time.

      “The question is just whether you think ever finding such laws, given the heterogeneity (hence complex sensitivity) of phenotypes and environments, is likely. And so far, it is appears to be highly unlikely.”

      Exactly, it’s an argument from ignorance. Which was Sober’s whole point.

      “Unless the animal in question has an intention to pass on a specific trait to its offspring”

      The reason doesn’t actually matter.

      ” it is not clear this would help defeat Fodor’s argument since it is the mechanism itself that needs to have an intention”

      Hahaha, organisms are one of the mechanisms of SS and NS

      “The trouble is that, when you do this level of abstraction with extensional processes you land up with a vacuous theory”

      But of course in the end there is still a giant “so what” hanging over all of this. As you admitted already, this criticism doesn’t actually cause issues for NS or evolutionary theory in general because we do in fact have methods of formulating accurate adaptionist theories. So what is the significance?

      Like

    • Bucky says:

      “It takes considerable levels of ignorance to not provide any reasoning for accepting a definition other than “this guy said so””

      It isn’t so much that “this guy said so” it’s more so the combination that the argument presented is logically valid and, so far, no one has shown it to be unsound. It doesn’t matter who “said so” what matters is the persuasiveness of the content of the thing said/argument presented.

      “Exogenous factors are some of the mechanisms of trait variation. The entire process is called NS.”

      There we go. You are starting to make sense. This is in contradiction to your previous comments. Fodor’s argument is against the large reliance on exogenous selectors.

      “It’s not an empirical matter.”

      Your equivocating. Fodor’s argument is not empirical. But what the scientific literature says/describes TNS is/as, is an empirical claim.

      “and assume that when someone disagrees with something in the literature, it means they have not read it.”

      It’s the fact that you “don’t care what the literature says” that’s troubling. Don’t confuse reading literature with caring about the content of the literature.

      “Saying a trait is selected or selected for and another is not, is a nonsensical statement.”

      Really? Tell that to Darwin as well as the vast majority of biologists. Remember the central thesis is that certain traits are selected for being causes of fitness. Again, your views are in stark contradiction to modern day biology. Moreover, check out the definition of “nonsensical.” As far as I can tell, the syntax and semantics of the proposition “one trait is selected for and the other is not” is perfectly correct and thereby certainly makes sense (such a statement is also verifiable, if you want to hold a logical positivist criteria of intelligibility). By saying that such a proposition/statement is nonsensical you are denying basic propositional/sentential logic. Next you will be denying the validity of a modus ponens.

      “In a successfully reproducing organism all of it’s traits have been selected because they have all been passed down to the offspring.”

      Great. no one is denying this.

      “Now, some traits over time go under more change than others”

      Also fine.

      “hence why Selection for is relative, not absolute.”

      Not sure what you mean by this. But lets suppose you are right. Besides drawing a distinction between selection and selection-for thereby making the proposition “one trait is selected for and the other is not” perfectly sensical (so contradicting your earlier statement), this doesn’t actually go to addressing Fodor’s argument.

      “This is also why you get confused at the terminology Scientists use, when describing trait variation. You assume they’re agreeing with you, in reality, you don’t actually understand the context of what they’re saying.”

      Some rhetorical posturing here. Not much substance. Yet to see how anything said here is actually correct.

      “Words aren’t things.”

      Well they might be if you’re a Platonist. Thankfully I am not, so I can agree with you on this. Again, not sure what point this makes against Fodor’s argument.

      “Fodor’s argument is not hard to understand.”

      Odd considering you have failed to understand it.

      “false premises”

      Which one(s) is false?

      “I actually agree with his conclusion to an extent.”

      Please, do share.

      “it’s an argument from ignorance”

      It’s not an argument! It’s just a question of whether one thinks its likely to have laws of selection. That isn’t an argument. The thoughts regarding heterogeneity and complexity are suppose to motivate the position that it is unlikely there are such laws. And again, the consensus in the biology literature is that there are no law of selection.

      “Hahaha, organisms are one of the mechanisms of SS and NS”

      The point seems to be over your head. Unless there is some hand of God guiding the evolutionary process, then the required intentional agent in the mechanism of natural selection by which evolution occurs is not present. That is the point. Saying that organisms are one of the mechanisms of SS and NS doesn’t help. It doesn’t even begin to get you to an intentional agent guiding the evolutionary processes and the distribution of phenotypic traits. Compare this (mother nature) with artificial selection where this is a mind controlling the process and selecting for the traits (the breeder). There is no gardener or breeder in nature. Mother nature isn’t an agent who has intentions.

      But of course in the end there is still a giant “so what” hanging over all of this. As you admitted already, this criticism doesn’t actually cause issues for NS or evolutionary theory in general because we do in fact have methods of formulating accurate adaptionist theories. So what is the significance?

      It isn’t just a “so what” (again throwing doubt that you understand Fodor’s argument). The argument does cause issues for the explanatory power of TNS. In other words, the argument causes problems if TNS is supposed to be considered a scientific theory (with predictive power, counterfactual support, and that generalizes over the phenomenon the theory purports to explain – generalizability of explanation over the phenomenon is the first thing you want in a scientific theory), rather than just individual post-hoc causal stories (AKA natural history). If Fodor is right, TNS isn’t a scientific theory and its unlikely there could be such a theory of phenotypic trait fixation (TNS is vacuous and the best we can hope for is good old fashioned natural history).

      The criticism about building a theory on the level of abstraction that Darwin tried to do is analogous to the criticisms leveled against Skinnerian learning theory.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Philosopher Roger Sansom writes in his book Ingenious Genes that “… evolution … [is] not law-like in any widely recognized way” (pg 20).

      Philosopher Michael Ruse writes in his book The Philosophy of Human Evolution (pg 16) “More precisely, Darwin tried to make reasonable or common sensical the very fact of evolution — all organisms have a common descent by natural processes from one or just a few simple forms — and at the same time provide a mechanism of change that speaks to final cause this mechanism being something Darwin called “natural selection.

      … we know that he became an evolutionist and discovered the mechanism for which he is famous, natural selection, in the late 1830s… (Ruse, 2012: 16)

      … Darwin introduced his main mechanism of natural selection.” (Ruse, 2012: 18)

      NS is clearly seen as a mechanism by Darwin and his contemporaries.

      It doesn’t matter if Melo doesn’t think that NS is a mechanism. Fodor’s argument addresses, and successfully refutes, both Darwin’s original idea and the further neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis.

      Traits are coextensive. When they are coextensive selection cannot act on T over T’, since that implies a mind or laws of selection. Neither exist. Therefore NS cannot explain why organisms have the traits they do.

      Saying that organisms can’t be coextensive doesn’t address anything that Bucky wrote. Melo’s pontification that NS is not a mechanism is irrelevant; NS is proposed to be a mechanism to explain trait fixation and speciation. Though Fodor’s argument shows how the structure of NS is not logically valid. Fodor agrees that organisms are “selected”, what he disagrees with is the claim that NS explains trait fixation and that NS can choose between coextensive traits (that it can choose between counterfactuals. It can’t).

      I suggest you read What Darwin Got Wrong, because it’s addressed there.

      This is also why there is no difference between selected and selected for.

      Yes there is. Bucky gave at least four examples.

      NS is not an explanatory mechanism. It does not explain biological trait fixation.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “it’s more so the combination that the argument presented is logically valid and, so far, no one has shown it to be unsound. ”

      What argument? No argument has ever been produced for NS being a mechanism for trait fixation. NS is trait fixation caused by exogenous variables. It’s nonsensical to say: “trait fixation caused by exogenous factors causes trait fixation”. Therefore, NS is a process, it’s literally just a name for a phenomena we witness.

      “There we go. You are starting to make sense. This is in contradiction to your previous comments.”

      No it’s not. I’ve been saying the same thing this whole time.

      “But what the scientific literature says/describes TNS is/as, is an empirical claim.”

      I’m not equivocating anything. No empirical evidence could suggest NS is a mechanism, nor that it’s main object of selection is traits. That itself is a priori truth from the definition of NS. Since reproduction is the only law of selection, traits cannot be selected, and saying it’s a mechanism is a tautology.

      “Not sure what you mean by this. But lets suppose you are right”

      How would you understand the implications if you can’t even grasp what I’m saying?

      “Besides drawing a distinction between selection and selection-for thereby making the proposition “one trait is selected for and the other is not” perfectly sensical (so contradicting your earlier statement), this doesn’t actually go to addressing Fodor’s argument.”

      Not so fast. The relativity doesn’t make any sort of distinction. All selected traits are also selected for, because selection acts upon whole organisms, which is what I mean by “arms cannot reproduce”. The purpose of this point is that it demonstrates 1) how flimsy Fodor’s argument is. It stands on subjective semantics and not actual truths. and 2)Organisms cannot be coextentsive to one another. This refutes his argument, but i’ll explain that at the bottom.

      “Some rhetorical posturing here.”

      What do you mean by “posturing”? I was simply explaining why you’re confused.

      ” Again, not sure what point this makes against Fodor’s argument.”

      Seriously? His entire argument comes from his confusion between how NS works and how Scientists compartmentalize it.

      “Odd considering you have failed to understand it.”

      No. Judging from how your responses are either misguided arguments from authority or ignorant questions, I think it’s more likely you haven’t actually understood any of my points.

      “It’s not an argument! It’s just a question of whether one thinks its likely to have laws of selection.”

      It’d be impossible for there not to be. As all Biological systems come from physical ones.

      “That isn’t an argument. The thoughts regarding heterogeneity and complexity are suppose to motivate the position that it is unlikely there are such laws. And again, the consensus in the biology literature is that there are no law of selection.”

      That is an argument, a poor one to be specific. The laws do exist, whether we have actually attempted to flesh out these laws and add them to Evolutionary theory is a whole another story. So it’s false to say there are no laws. I’d hate to argue this way, but he started the overt semantics and unfortunately it’s his grave.

      “The point seems to be over your head. Saying that organisms are one of the mechanisms of SS and NS doesn’t help. ”

      How ironic. It completely circumvents the problem. Organisms have intentions for trait selection. It’s not hard to understand. Except maybe for you.

      “It isn’t just a “so what” (again throwing doubt that you understand Fodor’s argument). The argument does cause issues for the explanatory power of TNS. In other words, the argument causes problems if TNS is supposed to be considered a scientific theory (with predictive power, counterfactual support, and that generalizes over the phenomenon the theory purports to explain – generalizability of explanation over the phenomenon is the first thing you want in a scientific theory), rather than just individual post-hoc causal stories (AKA natural history).”

      I don’t believe NS is a theory or a mechanism, which is where I agree with Fodor, but the way he is lead to this conclusion is riddled with errors. We’ve established that Organisms(the object of selection) cannot be coextensive, I figured Fodor understood that, or did he? Reading through his book it become extremely apparent that he is confusing the theory of NS with NS. The actual process is given intensionality by the way we choose to compartmentalize it, but that’s acceptable because we are beings with intentions.

      Of course this doesn’t mean NS isn’t vacuous, because it is. But the conclusion of Fodor’s argument is not absolute in the slightest, there is simply no justification for why it should be. NS is not a sufficient explanation but it is still an explanation that we use all the time, and it works perfectly fine. You cannot remove NS from Evolutionary theory. NS Is predictable and it is general, but it’s not specific. It being simply “natural history” doesn’t make it less scientific(look into Clelands’ paper on assymetrical causation and the common cause explanation).

      I’ll ask one more time, so what?

      RR,

      Don’t interrupt, adults are talking.

      Like

  7. anus 1 and anus 2 also apply to phenotype, aka traits.

    the free-rider/spandrel presupposes a column or vice versa. who cares?

    very little if anything in the “theory of evolution” can be tested in the way theories of physics are tested simply because of the time frame.

    but what does it mean when boffins say “this site in the genome shows heavy and recent selection”?

    i think it means that the site is far less variable than other sites.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      NS cannot distinguish between anus 1 and anus 2 when it comes to causes of fitness since it does not have a mind, it cannot intend.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      Just in case my final point is not detailed enough, organisms are tied to their niches, and NS selects on the individual level in real time. We see trends of isolated traits change temporally(think skin color in humans coinciding with migrations) relative to others, which gives incentive for Biologists to study which ecological disruption catalyzes such changes( The Vitamin D hypothesis). Even though NS cannot work on such a level we still reduce it to said level in order to explain these patterns. This creates intensionality, but this intensionality is only prescribed through we thinking beings with intentions. NS Doesn’t need intentionality or laws, because the way it works is not 1:1 with how we use it to form Adaptionist theories. This does not circumvent the issue, but the problem itself is insignificant, because no Biologist or “neo-darwinist”(as RR so idiotically calls it) Believes NS is a full explanation for trait variation, which is all Fodor’s argument proves. It doesn’t prove impotence, as discarding NS would actually weaken the explanatory power of Evolutionary theory as a whole. Never mind the fact that Historical science and it’s “theories” requires different methods of verification than does experimental science.

      Like

  8. here’s a simple experiment.

    a layman is given the native ranges of the distinct members of a large taxon with wide distribution, a large variance in geography.

    he is also given descriptions of the distinguishing phenotypes of the members of the taxon.

    if he can match the members of the taxon to their native range even approximately, then (((fodor’s))) argument is proven to be just more jewish humbug.

    Like

  9. Fart Whistle says:

    Mate, you’re an absolute idiot who’s simply too dumb to understand the science. You’re just making a complete prat of yourself with this site.

    Like

  10. what do you mean how?

    of course “layman” is a continuous term. some laymen are more laymen than others. some less.

    can phenotype and environment be accurately PAIRED by people who ONLY know two things:

    the set of phenotypes
    the set of environments

    ?

    if the answer is “no”, then (((fodor))) is proven right.

    if the answer is “yes”, then (((fodor))) is proven wrong/jewish.

    Like

  11. i would guess that for lots of taxons (((fodor))) would be right.

    but also lots of taxons (((he))) would be wrong.

    the distinction between the “just-so story” and the “what-really-happened story” is the distinction between bio-boffin and naif.

    Like

  12. Anuseed says:

    Genes that leave behind the most copies of themselves will become the most common in the population, i.e. will be “naturally selected”.

    We may not know the reason or which phenotype leads to this reproductive success but that’s our problem, not a failing of the concept of natural selection.

    You are one dumb kid.

    Like

  13. Kitomi Saitichi says:

    what exactly are you trying to say here.

    The universe itself is a gradient of asymmetrical distributions of mass, energy, etc. The ‘universe’s formula’ determines everything, and does not need any mechanistic explanation. It is unrevealable to us because the information space required to accurately model it would encapsulate more data possible than the entire universe, that is to say, we are constrained to an approximation of the universe’s laws that is only ever so more accurate, but not sufficiently enough to precisely determine X in Y.

    Natural selection is simply an emergent process that is seemingly stochastic because we cannot know all the possible variables and all the contingent information necessary to produce such phenomenon. Otherwise, if you were omnipotent, you would know precisely what, where, why, when, how and every single causal event.

    Now you are just trying to argue plain semantics in GxG interactions with undefined concrete value attributes in what is clearly a continuous random variable system that cannot be defined as such. I am tired of hearing the same people telling me that you don’t see X, but you see 32^x collection of electron spin pairs in some y orientations at z time with a,b,c ion bla bla bla. Look, that is pointless and meaningless, we use high-dimensional information compression on the metaspace so we can relate with one another. If you want to start arguing that X, T, Z is non-definitive due to non-distinguishability due to non-emulatability due to non-completeness of modelling due to physical constraints, lalala no statistical power to differentiate, lalala, narrow broad sense heritability this and that, I don’t care and it is a meaningless statement to say that NS is not an explanatory mechanism – saying so is like saying ‘no human theories’ ever conceive are an explanatory mechanism because we see A, B, C events that do not correspond to our incomplete models. Kapeesh? Thx.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      what exactly are you trying to say here.

      NS can’t explain trait fixation because there are no laws of selection and there is no agent of NS.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      What do you mean “there are no laws of selection and there is no agent of NS”?

      Genes that leave behind the most copies of themselves come to dominate the population. That’s basically all there is to natural selection. There’s no agent picking which genes to become the most common, it just happens by matter of statistics.

      Ever heard of Dunning–Kruger effect?

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      I explained the situation in another comment. Basically, when two traits are coextensive there is no for NS to “select-for” either coextensive trait because it lacks a mind and there are no laws of selection. If you agree there is no agent then good. Then you must argue for laws of selection. Laws of selection don’t exist. Therefore NS isn’t an explanatory mechanism and domestic) and doesn’t explain trait fixation.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      What do you mean “Laws of selection don’t exist”?

      Genes that leave behind the most copies of themselves become the most common in the population. That’s basically all there is to it.

      Do you not understand basic maths? Seriously, do you understand basic algebra and calculus?

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      There are no laws about traits that are selected-for. It’s not an empirical issue.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      Again you haven’t explained what you mean by “laws” of natural selection. Genes that have the highest reproductive success will come to exist at the highest frequencies (and vice-versa). That’s all there really is to the principle of natural selection.

      We can’t always know exactly why certain genes have the highest reproductive success but it is a mathematically necessary fact that if a gene variant has become the most common then it must have had the highest reproductive success in the past.

      Do you understand that very simple mathematical principle?

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Whether a trait increases fitness or not is extremely context-sensitive so there can’t be laws of selection.

      There must be laws about the relative fitness of having the traits in question. You keep bringing up genes, but the point is when two traits are, locally or otherwise, coextensive.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      What do you “context-sensitive”? A trait may increase fitness in one environment but not another? How is that a problem with natural selection?

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      NS can’t distinguish between the free-rider and the fitness-enhancing trait. Whether or not a trait increases fitness is context-sensitive, meaning it depends on the environment, natural history and other factors.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      Good God, you’re just an idiot who isn’t smart enough to understand basic science and maths and it’s not worth trying to explain things to you.

      So, see you later. Carry on reading books by cranks and believing you’ve found some devastating flaw in established science, when the truth is you’re just too dumb to understand it. In the meantime people are doing real science and furthering our understanding evolution and the human condition.

      Just one last thing, haven’t you noticed that whenever you debate people they call you a fucking idiot? Why do you think that is?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      What does that address? Dunning-Kruger is irrelevant to this conversation.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      You have no self-awareness.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      You didn’t address laws of selection. There are none. So NS can’t be an explanatory mechanism.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “Just one last thing, haven’t you noticed that whenever you debate people they call you a fucking idiot? Why do you think that is?”

      LMAO this made my day.

      Like

    • Anuseed says:

      Did you see him make a prat of himself on WestHunt? I think Greg banned him.

      https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/i-am-not-a-moron/#comment-97713

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      I actually agree with RR s contention. Cochran was acting childish and was clearly ignorant of the literature.

      RR isn’t stupid because he’s an egalitarian. He’s stupid because he’s a fallacious extremist whos parrots ideas too complex for him to actually understand. The definition of a pseudo intellectual.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Did you see him make a prat of himself on WestHunt? I think Greg banned him.

      Cochran is incoherent when people disagree with him (which is all the time).

      he’s an egalitarian

      What

      He’s stupid because he’s a fallacious extremist whos parrots ideas too complex for him to actually understand. The definition of a pseudo intellectual.

      Nothing that comes from my mind to my fingers to text is “too complex” for me to “understand.”

      Like

  14. King meLo says:

    “What”

    YOU’RE AN EGALITARIAN!

    The only HBD concept you endorse is race realism. Which is only to protect your namesake.

    “Nothing that comes from my mind to my fingers to text is “too complex” for me to “understand.””

    Hahahaha. So delusional.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      What’s an egalitarian?

      Which is only to protect your namesake.

      Appeal to motive.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      “What’s an egalitarian?”

      Somebody who propagates blank slatism like you.

      “Appeal to motive.”

      Haha, no. Nice try though.

      Race isn’t real. Genetic differences in intelligence are.

      You think the opposite. Which is hilariously stupid.

      Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      “Blank slatism”?

      Yes, it is an appeal to motivation.

      Like

    • King meLo says:

      No it’s actually not. You don’t even know how to properly call out fallacies.

      Your minimalist race concept would still be wrong even if you had no ideological motive. I’m just simply pointing out your transparent hypocrisy.

      Like

  15. rr is what happens when jews control your brain. sad!

    Like

  16. roni says:

    Do you have discussion about racial differences on masculine traits?
    like beard growth, testosterone level, scalp hair growth rate\texture etc
    Does the fact that North East Asians with the lowest T level can explain why their relatively lower creativity, and higher conformism compared to whites?
    I tend to agree with the evolutionary theory that North East Asians developed their large brain which lead to their hyper intelligence in order to adapt to extreme cold climate environment, However, some questions marks still remained

    1)Why whites, and especially North Europeans whites, evolved with lighter pigmentation than North East Asians (skin, eyes, hair)?

    2)Why South Asians(Indians, Pakistan)born with wavy hair along with very dark skin?

    3)due to their low T, North East Asians characterized by reduced sexual dimorphism , doesn’t this should be disadvantage given the well established knowledge of sexual selection as a type of natural eugenics mechanism?

    Like

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