Sunday, April 11, 2010

Evidently Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini have written a very silly book which contains the following key passage

" adaptationist theories ... are unable ... to do what they purport to do: explain the distribution of phenotypic traits in a population as a function of its history of selection for fitness."

I think blams for this unfortunate event must be assigned to Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin.

This comment will be long and confused and I am ignorant of evolutionary biology and of philosophy of science. In my ignorance I believe that Lewontin is one of the worlds top two evolutionary biologists (the other being Maynard Smith and I do know that Lewontin calls himself a population biologist (calls should be called if he is deceased)).

I think that Gould and Lewontin set up a straw man called "adaptationism". I am not convinced that anyone has ever been an adaptationist in the sense that they used the word. In short, I think they did exactly what Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini did. As far as I can tell (in my ignorance) Fodor and Piattelli Palmarini are faithful popularizers of Gould and Lewontin.

I consider

" adaptationist theories ... are unable ... to do what they purport to do: explain the distribution of phenotypic traits in a population as a function of its history of selection for fitness."

Surely no one has ever made any such claim.

Consider the thought experiment.

I ask an adaptationist (as defined above) why I can't travel backwards in time ?

The adaptationist must think up a selective disadvantage of having precognition or abandone adaptationism.

The answer "because time travel is impossible so no organism to be selected has ever had the time travelling allele" would amount to "I hereby abjure reject and abandone adaptationism."

I am 100% sure that no person has ever corresponded to the adaptationist in my story.

Fodor and Piattelli Palmarini must present a citation of a self declared adaptationist for their claim about what adaptationsists claim. I believe that they can't due this, because no such adaptationists are fictional creations invented by Gould and Lewontin.

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