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Old 03-21-2010, 01:37 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 447
Default Re: Science Saturday: Who Got What Wrong? (Jerry Fodor & Elliott Sober)

Here are my questions for the evolutionary biologists: is colossal hubristic self-satisfaction of the sort that Fodor exemplifies in this discussion a selected-for trait or a free-rider trait? And is the revulsion I feel when I listen to Fodor's style of interaction a selected-for trait or a free-rider trait? And can the forthcoming deletion of this comment by the comment nanny serve as an example of natural selection in action that could be predicted?

Rather than generating my own substantive comments about this discussion, I’d like to free-ride on the excellent comments of several people far more knowledgeable than I:

From Ned Block and Philip Kitcher (via BJKeefe):
“We suggest that the question [Fodor’s] deserves a shrug.”
“Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini take the role of philosophy to consist in part in minding other people’s business. We agree with the spirit behind this self-conception. Philosophy can sometimes help other areas of inquiry. Yet those who wish to help their neighbors are well advised to spend a little time discovering just what it is that those neighbors do, and those who wish to illuminate should be sensitive to charges that they are kicking up dust and spreading confusion. What Darwin Got Wrong shows no detailed engagement with the practice of evolutionary biology, nor does it respond to the many criticisms that have been leveled against earlier versions of its central ideas. In this latter respect, the authors resemble the creationist debaters who assert that evolution is incompatible with the second law of thermodynamics, hear detailed refutations of their charge, and repeat their patter in the next forum. We admire the work that both Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini have produced over many decades. We regret that two such distinguished authors have decided to publish a book so cavalier in its treatment of a serious science, so full of apparently scholarly discussions that rest on mistakes and confusions—and so predictably ripe for making mischief.”
From E. O Wilson in Consilience:
“To the extent that philosophical positions both confuse and close doors to further inquiry, they are likely to be wrong.”
“There have always been two kinds of original thinkers, those who upon viewing disorder try to create order, and those who upon encountering order try to protest it by creating disorder. The tension between the two is what drives learning forward. And in the Darwinian contest of ideas, order always wins because – simply – that is the way the real world works.”
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