Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby NoShips on July 9th, 2017, 1:03 pm 

Now, the thing that people like Ken don't see..

I'll say it coz I'm drunk

"Yes, yes, we have tested our "All bachelors are unmarried men" theory and no refutations so far


Is is true? Sounds ok to me (but ask Lomax)

The point being... test all you like; certain theories do not have to he tested.

Off to bed then..


Wish I had a Quinean...
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Don Juan on July 9th, 2017, 11:30 pm 

I will contribute later in this thread, soon I finished tasks...

It seems Gregory Bateson's essays are relevant, especially "The Role of Somatic Change in Evolution" page 351 in the book "Steps to an Ecology of Mind". The essay was in the journal Evolution, Vol 17, 1963.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby wolfhnd on July 10th, 2017, 3:28 am 

NoShips » Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:57 pm wrote:
Braininvat » July 10th, 2017, 1:53 am wrote:Misadaptation happens because ecsystems can change suddenly sometimes. Fodor uses too static a model of Adaptationism, IMO. (Yes, sigh, I've read both Berlinski and Fodor) And he homes in narrowly on a trait, which is an approach that many biologists wouldn't take. Of course, polar bears don't achieve fitness simply in virtue of being white pelted. They do so by embodying a wider principle called camouflage. They adapt by camouflaging and that happens to be the color white because polar snowfields are white. "White" in this case carries the intensional meaning of "what blends in with snow." AKA camouflage. By stripping out that key ingredient of meaning, he makes whiteness a narrower term. The niche, in this case, is defined by the abundance of snow, not by what occupied it. Is that clearer?

Not being closed of mind, just respectfully pointing towards my source of disagreement.


First thoughts... Can you give me an example of a maladaption that gained the upper hand?

FFS. You see this this, dude.


Happens a lot with sexual selection.

Here is where the debate between Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett over freewill illuminates the real issue. Animals have minds they make abstract decision. The mind may reside in the brain but at the same time it operates on what we have yet been unable to assign physical existence to which is information. As Dennett says no one denies that money is real or in the case of sexual selection that "love" isn't real. Love and money however only exist in the mind not in the physical brain. Now we know that love and money evolved because they were selected for out of real conditions in the physical world but from are perspective which is formulated around the evolved cultural tool of language they are both totally abstract.

Now you could argue that sexual selection is not a subset of natural selection but it is. Natural selection never implied that survival is rational. Rational is another example of an abstraction produced by the thinking tool of language that is real but doesn't have physical existence in the classical sense. Rationality is imposed on the theory of natural selection to simplify what does physically exist in world. Survival of multiple generations is a matter of fitness and fitness is a function of survival. It seems like circular logic because logic again is an abstraction that has no physical existence. The external world is not logical because logic only exist as an internal abstraction.

The trap is to reverse the process of experience. Experience should precede reason if the result is to be rational. You cannot reason about that which you have not experienced. In other words evidence before reason. If you reject evidence because it doesn't conform to your logic you have made the same mistake that Plato plagued the world of philosophy with. Your idea of a horse is not more real than the horse itself because your idea of a horse is a different version of reality. Your idea is real it just isn't what you think it is.

I would go on and on about how we approximate external reality as a practical necessity, as the close enough efficiency of an evolved brain but it gets tedious. Suffice it to say that approximating in absolute terms is an evolved efficiency that humans cannot overcome.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby wolfhnd on July 10th, 2017, 4:48 am 

I mentioned post modernism early and this is why. Every dangerous idea has a grain of truth or in the case of post modernism a foundation in truth. That foundation is the idea that for every set of phenomenon there is a near infinite number of interpretations. The problem is that if you accept this truth you run the risk of assuming that every proposition is therefor worthy of equal consideration. The truth that is perhaps more important is that there are a finite number of credible interpretations. Credible in this case is restrained by the biological reality that bad interpretations lead to suffering and death. Perception itself of course has biological limitations that can be extended by technology and culturally derived thinking tools. Even with any imaginable extension of perception limitations remain. There are also the limitations imposed by being a social species that relies on cooperation in the absence of coercion. Studies of chimpanzees for example indicate that non cooperative dominate males create unstable social structures. It is reasonable therefore to only consider interpretations that are within the perception limitations and do not disrupt the social fabric of dimorphic sexually reproducing ape.

As it relates to this discussion acknowledging that there are an infinite number of possible interpretations of natural selection does nothing to argue against the fact that there are a finite number of credible interpretations that must conform with limited perception and do not disrupt the social structure by denying the constraints of a sexual reproducing ape. That does not mean there is no room for spirituality in so far as spirituality is defined as your relationship to the abstract universe.

Perception and experience here are somewhat interchangeable. Experience is inherently limited and therefore so is reason. The problem is our abstractions are typically absolute which does not conform to the inherent limitations which can lead to cognitive dissonance. Our internal world is absolute but the external world is an approximation. To relieve the tension we surrender to absolute interpretations. We invent God's and philosophies that are unconstrained. In this case a straw man of a perfect interpretation of natural selection is set up to be torn down.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby hyksos on July 10th, 2017, 1:54 pm 

Back to these polar bears now: (and this is where it's essential to stifle your intuitions; we know the answer, or think we do, but that's not the issue. The issue is: can TNS discriminate?).


... "can TNS discriminate?"

As far as these Fodorian quandaries go, there are more difficult questions than the issue of whether the theory appears to say that material environments can discriminate. Of course material environments are not "minds" and therefore cannot "discriminate". The Great and Wise Environmental Discriminator produced white fur and then kept it around just in case it might have some bearing on reproductive fitness of bears who may or may not exist in the future. That would be teleology, which is not usually allowed in scientific theories, per se.

But this issue goes far beyond the mere appearance of obvious, phenotypic traits like polar bear fur color.

Somewhere on the early earth, (far prior to the Cambrian) say in the Proterozoic geological eon. Evolution by Natural selection gave rise to sex. Males and females. In the case of fungus it gave rise to multiple different kinds of "mating types" which must match in certain bizarre ways in order to initiate reproduction. But worse, and this is what really matters to Fodorian arguments : the earth then sustained sexual reproduction all the way through the evolution of complex multi-cellular life. Fast-forward to the present day and evolution has sustained oogamy in humans.

Forget polar bear fur color, this is DISCRIMINATION WRIT LARGE. Sex is a very complicated chemical mechanism. Sex itself is a wasteful activity requiring organisms to put themselves in great danger in order to pull it off. According to Fodor, this would mean that the precambrian earth produces sexual reproduction as if to "prepare the table for" human beings a billion years in the future who would walk around with vaginas and penises. The early earth discriminated the coming importance of sex to prepare history, ahead of time, for people to be pregnant and give birth. This is not just fur color on bears, sexual reproduction is something rather unexpected, complex, and inexplicable in reason.

At this point, those biologists who frequent this forum (and who are bothering to read this post), are screaming internally.

screamsintern.png


Jerry Fodor speaks and writes well, and he can wrap a gift in the prettiest of Christmas wrappings. (rumor is that he writes even better than he speaks). But in less formal contexts, we have already heard a similar argument used by Biblical creationists. The idea goes that "well sure the environment will select for traits depending on their application to an organism's fitness -- but where did the trait come from in the first place?"

(variations: "NS can select for existing traits but cannot create new mechanisms." "There is no way for information to increase under NS." et cetera).

Fodor would seduce the audience into believing the traits origin must have been in the designs of the Great and Wise Environmental Discriminator who either has "access to laws" or who has a mind with intensional states allowing it to "design stuff". Thus sex was designed by the the Great Environmental Discriminator , because in His Wisdom, he ordained the future drama that swirls around gender and sex, politically, psychologically and otherwise. I mean, sure, after the Great Discriminator created sexual reproduction, it was then put to the struggles of reproductive test like all other traits are. (created first, tested later) Luckily it succeeded at those tests.

Anyways.. after the biologists of the forum get done screaming internally, they will likely say something along the theme of "this is not how the process works".

I will let those more educated forum posters fill out the finishing touches and finalizing summaries of the point.

. . .
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby wolfhnd on July 10th, 2017, 8:58 pm 

Does anyone have an example of the ability to adapt as an adaptation. A few years ago I studied the issue and although there is research into this the envidence isn't very clear.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby BioWizard on July 10th, 2017, 9:16 pm 

wolfhnd » 10 Jul 2017 07:58 pm wrote:Does anyone have an example of the ability to adapt as an adaptation. A few years ago I studied the issue and although there is research into this the envidence isn't very clear.


I'm remembering this from microbio class about a decade ago, so I'll have to dig up the details and appropriate references. In a nutshell, some bacteria can switch from using a high fidelity DNA polymerase (the enzyme that copies chromosomal DNA) to a lower fidelity DNA polymerase under stressful conditions. The lower fidelity polymerase introduces mutations at a much higher rate, which ends up increasing their chance of happening upon a mutation that allows them to better cope with the stressor.

There's also the heritable epigenetic changes that pass on the adaptive readiness to a certain stressor to the next generation.

Is this the kind of thing you were thinking of?
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby wolfhnd on July 10th, 2017, 10:04 pm 

BioWizard » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:16 am wrote:
wolfhnd » 10 Jul 2017 07:58 pm wrote:Does anyone have an example of the ability to adapt as an adaptation. A few years ago I studied the issue and although there is research into this the envidence isn't very clear.


I'm remembering this from microbio class about a decade ago, so I'll have to dig up the details and appropriate references. In a nutshell, some bacteria can switch from using a high fidelity DNA polymerase (the enzyme that copies chromosomal DNA) to a lower fidelity DNA polymerase under stressful conditions. The lower fidelity polymerase introduces mutations at a much higher rate, which ends up increasing their chance of happening upon a mutation that allows them to better cope with the stressor.

There's also the heritable epigenetic changes that pass on the adaptive readiness to a certain stressor to the next generation.

Is this the kind of thing you were thinking of?


You may not remember but I posted extensively on the mutation rate of bacteria at the time this was my obsession. The jury is still out as best I can tell on if it is an adaptation or simple a variation in survival rates between bacteria that have more or less genetic stability. I'm afraid I have forgotten most of the technical language and details.

Are you stating as a matter of fact that epigenetics is an example of evolved to evolve or an example of a flexible reproductive strategy?

This is relevant to the original post because the hard line natural selection proponents seem to think that the fine distinctions are important.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby BioWizard on July 10th, 2017, 10:29 pm 

wolfhnd » 10 Jul 2017 09:04 pm wrote:Are you stating as a matter of fact that epigenetics is an example of evolved to evolve or an example of a flexible reproductive strategy?


Not all epigenetic changes of course. But I think there was a couple of instances where the heritable change was shown to carry some preparative advantage for the offspring in regards to dealing with the stressor that triggered the change in the parents (I try to take these things with a grain of salt, of course, but they're at the least interesting to consider). I think one example was in plants and the other in some vertebrate animal. I'd have to look up the paper.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Don Juan on July 11th, 2017, 6:43 am 

I have a hard time following Fodor's argument in the video...but I hope I get his main argument as explained by hyksos regarding:

... "can TNS discriminate?"


It can be thought, at least theoretically, that a characteristic can be selected even nature cannot discriminate because, under environmental and genetic pressures, the non-random structures involving the organism will persist long enough, depending on its limits, to allow for the emergence of characteristics, from the genotypic changes, that increase the flexibility of the organism as a whole to survive the environment and its genotypic changes. Gregory Bateson, coming from the information/communicational point of view, emphasized the importance of the relationship between genotypic change, somatic change and changes in the environment in understanding evolution. Please see "The Role of Somatic Change in Evolution" by "Gregory Bateson":

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 3310.x/pdf
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby Forest_Dump on July 11th, 2017, 8:17 pm 

wolfhnd wrote:Does anyone have an example of the ability to adapt as an adaptation. A few years ago I studied the issue and although there is research into this the envidence isn't very clear.


I have to admit that I come from the opposite end of the spectrum on a lot of this in that my biases are towards the more outdoors stuff and in a lot of this the test tube people either haven't gotten to it of, if they have, I just haven't heard of it (tied up with too much other reading). So, some of the "classic" examples thrown out there include anatomically modern Homo sapiens as a generalist that was able to adapt to a variety of different econiches and therefore, more environments and thus survive environmental change while archaic Homo sapiens was less adaptable and ultimately became more specialized, particularly to the glacialk environment (i.e., classic Neanderthals) and thus was less able to survive. Similarly I seem to remember that it has been hypothesized that the classic of Darwin's finches was about a generalized small population of finches was the founding population and it was this attribute as a generalist able to adapt to multiple different econiches that allowed for the adaptive radiation seen in the diversity of the Galapagos finches.

But of course, as I said, I have absolutely no idea whether any of this has been supported from the genetic side of things and, of course, there is a similar weakness in that, however logically plausible this appears, It is difficult or impossible to actually put this to test with field data. I think we know enough that we need to be cautious about suggesting either that amHs was a generalist or that Neanderthals were more specialized. Nor do we have fossils of the earliest finches on the Galapogos Islands or any kind of detailed avian archaeology that some finches did indeed adapt better to different econiches. So there are and will probably always remain debates as to whether this genome did indeed do better in environment x. But what are the better alternatives? (i.e., I acknowledge some of the weaknesses pointed to by NoShips and the various ID critics - I just don't see a better alternative and don't think it is a wise choice to simply throw the baby out with the bathwater until we do come up with something better.)
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby wolfhnd on July 11th, 2017, 11:07 pm 

Forest I think you are right. Looking for simple solutions to complex problems is perhaps not the way to go. On the other hand the reductionist empiricism model has worked fairly well up to this point. It is a problem most people are aware of and some like Stephen Wolfram have tried to address. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be the person to solve this problem.
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Re: Jerry Fodor and Nikolaas Tinbergen

Postby hyksos on July 21st, 2017, 8:11 am 

The principle forum participant is no longer with us. Nevertheless , I should wrap up an earlier dangling item in this thread.

Human beings come in male and female forms, and we reproduce sexually. Why?

Biology says this is because we are the progeny of earlier species which reproduced sexually. There is no deeper mystery to this answer. No pre-requisite preparation by a "discriminator" with a mind or intensional states. No telos that dictated that humans should have had two sexes prior to our emergence.

The particular example (of sex) was used by me because it is far stronger a situation than the simple selection of polar bear fur between white and dark varieties. Under a Fodorian framework, the emergence of sex would not only be a "discrimination between co-extensive traits" , but would look like a "creative act" of entirely new chemical and cellular functionality. (As I said in my earlier post) not only was the chemistry of sex created by the earth and its ecosystems, it evolved and then was selected for later -- and was selected again and again until it persists to this day among mammals and ourselves.

In summary,

If you think polar bear fur selection raises problems, Mr Fodor, just wait until you approach the problem of the evolution of sex. Your problems are meager so far.
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