Evolution and Philosoph2

Evolution and Philosoph2 - Evolution and Philosophy...

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Evolution and Philosophy Previous Contents Next he simple version of the so-called 'tautology argument' is this: Natural selection is the survival of the fittest. The fittest are those that survive. Therefore, evolution by natural selection is a tautology (a circular definition). The real significance of this argument is not the argument itself, but that it was taken seriously by any professional philosophers at all. 'Fitness' to Darwin meant not those that survive, but those that could be expected to survive because of their adaptations and functional efficiency, when compared to others in the population. This is not a tautology, or, if it is, then so is the Newtonian equation F=ma [Sober 1984 , chapter 2], which is the basis for a lot of ordinary physical explanation. The phrase 'survival of the fittest' was not even Darwin's. It was urged on him by Wallace, the codiscoverer of natural selection, who hated 'natural selection' because he thought it implied that something was doing the selecting. Darwin coined the term 'natural selection' because had made an analogy with 'artificial selection' as done by breeders, an analogy Wallace hadn't made when he developed his version of the theory. The phrase 'survival of the fittest' was originally due to Herbert Spencer some years before the Origin . However, there is another, more sophisticated version, due mainly to Karl Popper [1976 : sect. 37]. According to Popper, any situation where species exist is compatible with Darwinian
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Evolution and Philosoph2 - Evolution and Philosophy...

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