Fodor May Yet Be Clever

I was trying to figure out what Fodor could have been thinking.  Here’s what I came up with: If we are trying to figure out what Evolution has done, then we presuppose that Evolution is capable of doing something. If Evolution is capable of doing something, then there must be some mechanism of Evolution that does the doing. Now imagine yourself in the position of the mechanism of Evolution that does the doing, i.e. the […]

Fodor’s Intensional Criticism of Evolution

Fodor’s intensional criticism of evolution is that the process of evolution is unable to make the necessary distinctions in selecting traits.   This is to say that evolution itself cannot  select for specific traits.  If evolution can’t select for traits, then we will definitely not be able to figure out what’s happening based on evolution.  Hence evolution is not a good theory. Does evolution need a mechanism to select for certain traits? No, there is no […]

On Block and Kitcher on Fodor

Ned Block and Philip Kitcher have posted a review of Fodor/Piatelli-Palmarini’s “What Darwin Got Wrong” (via Leiter). It is a well executed, though flawed, counter to Fodor’s arguments.  First they give a nice rundown of the underdetermination issue I posted about here. Then they discuss the “intensional fallacy”.  They argue that the crux of F & P’s argument can be seen as trying to split up the causal efficacious trait and the selected-for trait.  This […]

Genetic Drift and the Uncertainty Principle

I have previously argued that the history of species must be treated like a evolutionary trajectory: we can only appreciate a species in a relative sense, just as we must evaluate physical trajectories relative to our own motion. But what happens when we try to measure the very small in physics?  We find there is a limit to the precision at which we can measure, as given by the uncertainty principle. This suggests that there […]

Sexual Reproduction, The Case for, Round 2

Let us assume that there are different kinds of adaptations.  Specifically, some are better than others in the long run:  some adaptations will only make a difference in an organism’s ability to reproduce viable offspring over a short period of time, whereas others will be beneficial for many generations. In asexual reproduction there is no mechanism for distinguishing between a short term beneficial adaptation and a long term beneficial adaptation.  This subjects long term beneficial […]

Sexual Reproduction

Say you are a single celled organism.  To reproduce you have to double your size and then you need to split yourself in half.  Repeat indefinitely. Now say you are a single celled organism that has the option to reproduce sexually.  To reproduce you need to increase yourself to 3/2 your original size and find a similar mate.  Then you both contribute 1/2 to the new organism and repeat indefinitely. Asexual reproduction requires you to […]

A Priori Against Physicalism

I saw that Richard Brown is working to defend physicalism against a priori arguments.  He says that most (all?) arguments use the same intuitions found in the zombie-knowledge arguments. This got me to thinking about a priori arguments against physicalism and I came up with something different: If physicalism is, as Dr. Brown says, “… the view that only physical things exist. Physical things are those things that are postulated by a completed physics,” then […]

The Non-Reducibility & Scientific Explanation Problem

Q: What is a multiple star system? A: More than one star in a non-reducible mutual relationship spinning around each other. Q: How did it begin? A: Well, I guess, the stars were out in space and at some point they became close in proximity.  Then their gravitations caused each other to alter their course and become intertwined. Q: How did the gravitations cause the courses of the stars to become intertwined?  Gravity does one […]

Dismantling Fodor’s Argument

Fodor argued that the theory of evolution is not a legitimate theory of science because it is either vacuously true or wrong.  He accused Darwin of committing the intentional fallacy. (synopsis here) Insofar as he made no logical mistakes in his reasoning, we need a different strategy to defend the theory of evolution.  In this post I will argue that his argument is an instance of gerneral underdetermination, and hence not a problem of evolution […]

What Fodor Got Wrong

Jerry Fodor recently (4 March) gave a talk entitled “What Darwin Got Wrong” at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.  He accused Darwin of committing the intentional fallacy and hence said, straight out, that he didn’t believe in the theory of evolution. So what exactly does Fodor think Darwin got wrong? He believes that the theory of evolution is vacuously true (or just wrong) and hence not a worthwhile theory of science. You […]