Evolution and Teleology

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Canute, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    OK. Except for the 'solid ground' bit with which I disagree.

    I can see that this is the current view. For me it begs the question of why an entity would give a damn about its own survival, but that's another matter.

    Science claims by a fairly unanimous vote that neither consciousness nor mind are causal. Thus purpose and teleology are banished from evolutionary theory. This is an aspect of the doctrine of causal completeness. Brain is assumed to cause mind, mind being supervenient on brain. However if mind is precisely supervenient on brain it is in principle impossible to tell which is causing which. Thus my question as to why science always assumes the worst (other than to protect its paradigm).

    I don't agree but that doesn't matter. It matters more that what you say here is inconsistent with your belief that consciousnes is causal. If brain is definitely responsible for consciousness then consciousness is not causal. Also I feel that saying that consciousness is causal is not a mystical position.

    I agree. However this is the scientific view. It is based on the objection that if consciousness was causal it would break the laws of thermodynamics, (mainly No. 2) and that if consciousness is non-physical then it cannot interact with matter, and some other related objections.

    Agreed. Although I would argue that neither did the previous world view.


    I could not disagree more. If consciousness in any way affects our behaviour then it is central to our evolution. Please note that I am not suggesting our evolution is designed in any way. We are not sensible enough to have started to do that.
     
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  3. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    maybe your entire first assumption is not true and hence we do not have to discuss the role distilled from this assumption in evolution.
     
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  5. Neville Registered Senior Member

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    If a cat, through behaviour, learns how to open a cat flap then it's chance of survival are increased - cold, food, the fact that a human is likely to 'care' for them, at least feed and water it etc. In any case even if the cat in question does not belong to the house in question, the behaviour is going to increase the chances of survival (i hope you can agree with this).

    Now humans worldwide prefer black cats (example!). 75% of the human population would prefer a black cat. Now kittens spend the time immediately after being born with the parent cat who teached it's litter to open cat flaps. This behaviour wil increase the survival (because humanity has taken over nature and controls it to some extent and therefore has an effect on evolution!) of the black cats (because humanity prefers them and is more likely to take one on and look after and teach it how to gain access to food, water and warmth) yet the genes that the black cats possess wil have little to do with their survival! the black cats survival only really rests on it's hair colour. This could mean that over time black cats will become more prominent but this will not affect evolution. The genes, such as genes for being a skillful prowler and catching more mice because of this, will not be passed on for their own benefit. Random genes will be passed on. Genes that some black cats possess and that others don't yet this does not matter. the only genes that would really matter are: aesthetic genes (the ones that determine whether the cat will be a 'fat cat') and hair genes.

    Humanity does have an effect on evolution.
     
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  7. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Or at least humanity WILL have an effect on evolution.
    I agree with everything you said, and humans definately effect the evolution of cats and dogs considering in a way we actually made them, or at least changed those species using the laws of evolution in a sped up, more efficient way that suited us.
    These would be the only animals dramitically affected by humanity in the evolutionary sense so far. Most animals are struggling to keep up because evolution doesn't work anywhere near as quickly as human progression. Very little evolution has occured since humans have been around because, evolutionarily speaking, we have only been here for the wink of an eye. When we wipe ourselves out I think evolution will not only be effected by humanity but drastically changed. Alot of the current species will probably be gone and it will give way for thousands of new species and undoubtedly a new earth dominator(not quite like us, of course, more like in the way the dinosaurs dominated earth).
    I'm guessing insectoid creatures, but thats merely speculation

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  8. Neville Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe a bit too science-fiction dont you think Lou Natic??

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    You could be right though! No reason why not (yet!).
     
  9. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Yeah I agree, and I never was a fan of sci-fi to be honest

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    The reason I assume they will come out on top is because WE don't seem to be able to stop them, we would really struggle to wipe out insects even if we wanted to, they can survive things we can't(nuclear war) so there is a good chance they could end up as the sole survivors after our reign of terror, and thus evolve into dominate lifeforms.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2003
  10. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    From 'on the origin of species' by charles darwin. Chapter 14: Recapitulation and Conclusion

    'Man does not actually produce variability; he only unintentionally exposes organic beings to new conditions of life, and then nature acts on the organisation, and causes variability. But man can and does select the variations given to him by nature, and thus accumulate them in any desired manner. He thus adapts animals and plants for his own benefit or pleasure. He may do this methodically, or he may do it unconsciously by preserving the individuals most useful to him at the time, without any thought of altering the breed. It is certain that he can largely influence the character of a breed by selecting, in each successive generation, individual differences so slight as to be quite inappreciable by an uneducated eye. This process of selection has been the great agency in the production of the most distinct and useful domestic breeds. That many of the breeds produced by man have to a large extent the character of natural species, is shown by the inextricable doubts whether very many of them are varieties or aboriginal species.'

    Darwin doesn't call this natural selection though, but selection by man. Although domestic animals are part of the diversity of life, they came into existence slightly differently than other species, since they did not come about with natural selection.

    in fact if you would read 'on the origin of species' you would find that he talks quite a lot about domesticated animals.
     
  11. Neville Registered Senior Member

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    sole survivors!

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    I may just do that!

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  12. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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  13. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Canute: This Thread seems to be more related to semantic and philosophical issues than to science.

    Free will is a concept that seems to me to be a philosophical issue, clearly beyond the realm of science. Those who claim it exists can show no experimental evidence to back up their claim. Those who claim it does not exist can show no experimental data to refute it.

    I tend to believe in free will, but am closer to being an agnostic than a true believer. I suspect that my belief is more emotional than intellectual.

    Some days I play bridge, some days golf, some days neither, some days both. If I were a firm believer, I might claim that these behaviors are acts of free will. Some scientist might disagree, claiming that free will is an illusion. Can either of us set up an experiment to prove one of these conflicting claims? I cannot think of such an experiment.

    I cannot replay the last six months of my life and show that I could have made different decisions. The scientist cannot replay the last six months of my life and show that I made the same decisions. Comparing several months of my life this year with several months last year or next year does not provide any experimental evidence one way or the other.

    Is the concept of free will contrary to or implied by some well founded scientific principles? It used to be contrary to classical physics, which seemed consistent with a deterministic universe. Classical physics had strong experimental evidence indicating the validity of analytical equations. Those equations supported the notion that the future and past were determined (in principle) by the position and velocity of every particle in the universe. All admitted that, in practice, the data could not be collected and that the computations could not be done.

    With the advent of Quantum Theory, it cannot be claimed that free will is contrary to any scientific principle, nor can it be shown to be implied by any scientific principle. How can anybody claim that the issue of free will is within the scope of modern day science? It is a philosophical issue at the present time, and I suspect that it will always remain beyond the scope of science. There might be scientists expressing opinions about free will, but that does not make it science. There are scientists who express opinions about all types of nonscientific topics and argue vehemently for those opinions.

    To keep this post short, I have ignored other issues raised by this thread.
     
  14. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    Re: Re: Evolution and Teleology

    In a way I agree, since I certainly don't believe it is true. However if it is not true then we DO have to consider the effect of consciousness on behaviour and evolution.
     
  15. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    Agreed
    Not yet. When they do lo and behold it will transform itself magically into science. If I was to propose a false prediction the job of testing it would need to be done by science. Thus it is not entirely not science,
    I suspect that free will and determinism are equivalent explanations all the way back to the beginning, where suddenly determinism becomes inadequate as a thesis.
    Not agreed. It doesn't help much to base free will on indeterminism or probability. It would be a strange sort of free will.
    They can't, unfortunately.
     
  16. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Canute: Read more carefully. I did not say that Quantum theory supported or provided a basis for free will.

    I merely said that Quantum theory undermined classical determinism, resulting in free will no longer being contrary to any scientific principles.

    Quantum Theory seems to make free will an open question for philosophers, with science on the side lines & out of the game.
     
  17. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    Well... I suppose it depends how you look at it but these two sentences seems wholly contradictory to me. In my view the second sentence is wrong. This is largely for the same reasons as John Dupree, although he steers a middle path in the end. -
    http://cogprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/archive/00000341/00/FREEDOM.htm
     
  18. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Canute: The John Dupree article is pretty wordy and difficult to wade through. After reading it, I am still do not know if he believes in free will. I think he is denying it, but he never seems to make an explicit statement. Did I miss something when reading that article? Is there some place where he says “There is free will” or “Humans have no free will.”?

    It seems incredible that he takes so many words to say that the universe is not deterministic, when this has been an accepted view since early in the 20th century with the advent of Quantum Theory. Why all the talk about Newtonian mechanics?

    I still claim that the issue of free will is a philosophical issue, beyond the scope of science. There is no experiment that can support it or negate it. There seems to be no scientific principle that opposes it. There seems to be no scientific principle that provides a basis for it.

    Your comments escape me.
    The bold remarks are mine. The plain text is yours.

    What is contradictory? My first sentence says that QT does not support free will. The second concludes that it does not negate it. Together they say that QT allows the possibility of free will, but does not provide any support for the belief.

    What do you think is wrong with the second sentence? Surely Quantum theory denies classical determinism. That part of the sentence seems valid. Classical determinism seems incompatible with free will. If the future is determined by present initial conditions, in what sense do I make decisions using free will? Determinism claims that I had no choice but to have made the decisions I actually made. Classical determinism definitely denies the possibility of free will. If QT undermines determinism, it results in free will no longer being contrary to some principle of physics.

    While I cannot think any part of QT that provides a reason for believing in free will, I see nothing that denies the possibility of free will. It seems clear to me that classical determinism denied the possibility.

    BTW: Certain religious beliefs on free will held by very intelligent people always boggled my mind. I remember reading about god knowing everything, including all details of the future. Yet man has free will. If god knows in detail what I am going to do next year, in what sense do I have any control over my actions?
     
  19. Canute Registered Senior Member

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    He makes the point that QM does not offer any better basis for believing in free will than the physics of Newton, (or Democritus, or Socrates or anyone else). This is true because indeterminism or probablistic causality is no more likely to give rise to free will than strict determinism. If I remember right he does not try to prove or disprove the notion of free will itself

    Well - I would say that the fact that every human being that ever lived felt that they had it was fairly good evidence, or is at least a piece of scientific data that needs explaining. However in the end you might be right. It's a trivial matter for science, and it does not matter what science thinks about it for as long as it claims that it is not a matter for science. Your comments therefore relate to the limits of science rather than the plausibility of freewill.

    You say that classical determinism disallowed free will from science. Then you said the advent of QM made it allowable. It follows that QM supports the notion of freewill to some extent.

    So does science even now, with or without QM, in my opinion (and that of Dupree).

    I quite agree that many definitions of God are incoherent.
     
  20. Neville Registered Senior Member

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    Exactly!!
    Apparently God gave us Free Will so that we could choose to love him and be saved. Without a choice then what we did would be up to God. I sometimes think it still is. In any given situation the agent of free will does not have a free, will: s/he cannot choose to do anything s/he wants; there are only a limited number of options available for example when coming across a fallen tree the person could not choose to jump 200 feet in the air and over the trunk. However of the options available which one was taken?? Was it the one that required least energy, was it the quickest because the person was being chased, was it the one that required least agility because the person was injured?? All of these decisions are based upon circumstances and context or history. Decisions taken will be the result of the circumstances of the situation. If there is a situation where the 2 options available are truly equal then which one will be taken? Is this 'Free' Will? This will be discussed later.

    Imagine an everyday situation where the choices available are 1 and 0. Assuming that 0 is a negative experience then the individual could choose it, which points to an existence of free will, however the actual choice will be based on such things as need - biological or otherwise- and experience i.e. has the individual experienced the negativity before, does it recognise the choice as a negative experience? To clarrify: Should 0 signify the choice of suicide then the fact that a person can commit suicide surely highlights the notion of Will and its freedom. However all choices themselves are based upon previous experience, and these choices will affect future experience and available choices i.e because a person chose to steal he did not also choose to go to prison e.g. Because a person chose 2 does not mean that they also chose 7, say:

    6 7 8 9 10 11
    \ / \ / \ /
    2 3 4
    \ / \ /
    0 1


    However even though probablities can be taken into account and the likelihood of situations occuring can be estimated, experience must be the best indicator of choice, which itself is unnavoidable because one cannot choose to be born in a particular time and place and therefore which choices will be available and what the result of these choices will be.

    Perhaps the key here is not about what the individual chooses and what the result of this will be but the choice itself being available.
    If there was a situation where the two choices were exactly the same then there would be no choice:

    10 10
    \ \
    \ \
    \ \
    / /
    \ \
    / /
    / /
    \ \
    1 1


    because each choice truely is the same and leads to the same conclusion. However the big question must be whether the choice of one option will definitely lead to the choice of the next. I think this must come down to time i.e. will the choice of 1 always equal 10 or can it sometimes equal 11?

    *Sorry for qriting so much!

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    I hope it is ok to follow*

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    damn diagrams! They were really good too!

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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2003

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