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Darwin-L Message Log 10: 1–20 — June 1994

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.

This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during June 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.

The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”


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DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 10: 1-20 -- JUNE 1994
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<10:1>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Wed Jun  1 00:18:51 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 1994 01:18:41 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: List owner's monthly greeting
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Greetings to all Darwin-L subscribers.  On the first of every month I send
out a short note on the status of our group with a reminder of basic commands.
Darwin-L is nine months old, and we have more than 575 members from nearly
30 countries.  I am grateful to all of you for your interest and your many
contributions, and for helping to make Darwin-L one of the most cordial,
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The Darwin-L gopher archive is open to all subscribers on rjohara.uncg.edu
(numeric address 152.13.44.19); it contains the logs of our past discussions,
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The following are the most frequently used listserv commands that Darwin-L
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Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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<10:2>From john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au  Wed Jun  1 01:37:58 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 1994 16:34:24 +1000
From: John Wilkins <john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution Lamar
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Gary Sziko wrote:

>Could you point me to where Mayer says that cultural evolution can be
>Lamarckian?
>
>Surely he can't mean (and you can't mean) the knowledge one acquires from
>living in a culture becomes incorporated in one's genome and thereby
>inherited by one's offspring. What can be meant be saying that Lamarckian
>mechanisms are involved in cultural evolution?

and Nicholas Gessler replied:

>Biological evolution is often defined as a change in allele frequency in
>allele (gene) frequency in a population over time. I will make a parallel
>statement for culture, using biological evolution as a metaphor, by saying
>that cultural evolution may be defined as a change in trait (artifacts,
>fashions, ideas, styles, themes, etc.) frequency in a population over time.
>I do not mean to imply that cultural traits can be inherited as biological
>alleles. I do mean to imply, that applying the Lamarckian and Darwinian
>modes of evolution to culture can be a fruitful way of looking at cultural
>change.
>
>We could call this adapting a biological metaphor for the social sciences,
>or alternatively we could expand the concept of evolution to include
>non-biological (that is cultural) phenomena. Many anthropologists choose the
>latter. Among those who do, most argue that cultural evolution is entirely
>Lamarckian. I would say that it is both Lamarckian and Darwinian. Ernst
>Mayr made the same statement (for both) at a presentation to the Center for
>the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life at UCLA a few months back.

The following comes from a draft of a paper I'm writing. I'd be interested to
receive responses. I think it is germane to this topic, as science is
(perhaps) an instance of culture 8-):

=====================

Even before Darwin and often since, "evolutionary" models of change in
science have been proposed, usually as flawed and ultimately merely
suggestive metaphors. In any event, they have not given rise to
influential schools of thought in the interpretation of the development
of science, with the possible exceptions of Whitehead and Collingwood,
both of whom seem more effective in theological than philosophical
contexts. Some of the major proponents of elements of evolutionary
epistemologies include Mach, Pierce, Dewey, Quine, Kuhn, Toulmin and
most influentially Popper.

However, none of these full or partial systems of evolutionary
epistemology are strictly analogous to Darwin's model of biological
evolution through natural selection (as ensconced in the so-called
neo-Darwinist "New Synthesis"). Each exhibits some kind of disanalogy of
the kind that, if its analogue appeared in a biological theory, would be
dismissed as "Lamarckian" (with all kinds of historical injustice to
Lamarck and generous charity to Darwin, cf. Mayr 1982: chapters 8, 9, 10.).

For each of the current debates in evolutionary biology -- the units of
selection debates, gradualism versus saltationist or punctuationist
views, cladism versus phenetic taxonomy -- there are analogous problems
about conceptual change in science, and generally the least Darwinian+
view is taken to represent the patent truth about science. Scientists
purposely hypothesise in order to solve problems. In biological
evolution, selection is decoupled from the mechanisms generating
variation (Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman 1981, Sober 1984, Eldredge 1989,
Campbell 1988); that is, variants do not arise in order to solve
ecological problems for a species. Theoretical variation always results
from an eye to the main chance on the part of a theorist, who is more or
less anticipating the selective regime applied to scientific hypotheses.
Science, it is said (Popper 1972), is the process of *intending* to
solve problems, while evolution in biology is not in any way intentional.
Hence the analogy fails.

[+ Using "darwinian" and "lamarckian" to denote generalised theoretical
models of processes that do not necessarily apply to biological evolution.
Where the terms are capitalised, they refer to the biological theories.]

While science may evolve, say the critics, it is not through darwinian
processes of undirected variation and natural selection, for science
clearly is directed. Variations made to existing theories are said to be
analogous to "soft-inheritance" genetics models: they are acquired
after, not at, replication, for experience is a teacher, and a single
individual may transmit a number of mutually exclusive theories over
time. They are, in effect "lamarckian".

===================

I ultimately disagree with the propositions either that culture is
lamarckian or that it is _necessarily_ progressive in any sense, and so
it matches both darwinian criteria. I hope this is of interest to
someone.

Bibilographical references

Cavalli-Sforza L L and M W Feldman 1981 _Cultural transmission and
evolution: A quantitative approach_ Princeton U P

Campbell D T 1988 "A general 'selection theory' as implemented in
biological evolution and in social belief-transmission-with-modification
in science" _Biology and philosophy_ 3

Eldredge N 1989 _Macroevolutionary dynamics: Species, niches, and adaptive
peaks_ McGraw-Hill

Mayr E 1982 _The growth of biological thought: Diversity, evolution and
inheritance_ The Belknap Press of Harvard U P

Popper K R 1972 _Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach_ Oxford U P
(1975 revision)

Sober E 1984 _The nature of selection_ MIT Press (1985 reprint with
amendments)

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<10:3>From mhinelin@polar.Bowdoin.EDU  Wed Jun  1 04:55:08 1994

From: mhinelin@polar.Bowdoin.EDU (Mark L. Hineline)
Subject: Re: Questions, problems, Jardine, and Collingwood
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 05:55:56 +119304128 (EDT)

I am most grateful to Lynn Nyhart, Mary P. Winsor, and Bob O`Hara for
sustaining a discussion of problems as historical entities. Bob`s
reference to Dewey is especially germane, and while Dewey may have
gotten it right (that we 'get over' some problems rather than resolve
them), the historically interesting question -- a question to be
answered through recourse to interdisciplinary effort -- is *why*
it takes so long to get over certain problems. Lynn's reference
to N. Jardine is appropos. In addition to `legitimate` and non-
'legitimate` questions, there seems to be a category of super-
legitimate questions or problems. The species problem seems to be
one of these.

A problem whose history I know somewhat better is the "coral reef
problem," seemingly resolved by Darwin's account of the development
of coral reefs and atolls with subsidence of the seafloor as the
primary cause. Darwin's account had few serious challengers in
the late 1840s through the mid-1860s, but thereafter a variety of
alternative causes for coral reef development were argued (by
Guppy, A. Agassiz [about which M. P. Winsor may have more to say],
and numerous others. William Morris Davis devoted most of his
mature years to resolving the problem in favor of Darwin's
explanation, and published his monograph, *The Coral Reef Problem*
in 1928. Over thirty years later, Darwin's original theory was
reprinted with an introduction by Menard, who pointed to
stratigraphic cores from borings at Eniwetok as "proof" of Darwin's
theory. (This brief summary hardly does justice to the duration
and complexity of the problem).

What can be learned by examining the coral reef problem *as a
problem*? First, and almost dismissively, it makes mincemeat of
a Kuhnian account of science, and of other philosophical accounts
that suggest simple choice between theories. More important,
however, is that it illustrates the pecking order of the sciences;
and this is where sociology of science comes in and does important
work. *If* the coral reef problem was solved by stratigraphic
evidence (the thickness of the column at Eniwetok), is this
because stratigraphic evidence is more dependable than Davis's
geomorphological evidence? Or is it because stratigraphers are
(or were) the final arbitars of questions in the earth sciences?

By analogy, then, what sort of evidence and argument might there
be that would resolve the species problem?

Mark L. Hineline
(A historian in the) Department of Physics
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine 04011
mhinelin@polar.bowdoin.edu

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<10:4>From OMARTI@TIFTON.CPES.PEACHNET.EDU  Wed Jun  1 07:34:32 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 1994 08:23:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Orville G. Marti" <OMARTI%TIFTON.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Is Anthropic Principle Circular?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: COASTAL PLAIN EXPERIMENT STATION

During a religious discussion, a physicist made the comment that ..."no
scientist has successfully challenged the weak anthropic principle...".
The weak anthropic principle, he explained, is the view that cosmological
parameters are perfectly arranged for man.  This was then offered as
"evidence" for intelligent design in the universe.

If one looks at the argument as a syllogism:
  P   Man exists.
  P   The universe is arranged for man.
  C   Therefore, man exists.

At best, this seems to be circular.  Is it? Or have I oversimplified the
argument? I am interested in references to and refutations of the Anthropic
Principle. And how does the 'weak' principle differ from the 'strong'
principle?

************************************************************************
Orville G. Marti, Jr.           P.O. Box 748
Microbiologist                  Tifton, Ga.  31793
Phone: 912-387-2328 (office)   BITNET: OMARTI@tifton
Phone: 912-387-2350 (lab)      INTERNET: OMARTI@tifton.cpes.peachnet.edu
Fax:   912-387-2321
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
      The more books you read, the more stupid you become.
                                            ... Mao Tse Tung
      Read your Bible every day.
                    ...Jerry Falwell
*************************************************************************

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<10:5>From junger@samsara.law.cwru.edu  Wed Jun  1 08:20:06 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 94 08:17:31 EDT
From: junger@samsara.law.cwru.edu (Peter D. Junger)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Is Anthropic Principle Circular?

In message <01HD0Q9TI74I921QG1@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU> Orville G. Marti, Jr.
writes:

>During a religious discussion, a physicist made the comment that ..."no
>scientist has successfully challenged the weak anthropic principle...".
>The weak anthropic principle, he explained, is the view that cosmological
>parameters are perfectly arranged for man.  This was then offered as
>"evidence" for intelligent design in the universe.

That sounds stronger than the way that the weak anthropic principle is
normally stated.  The weak principle is that if or portion of the
universe (viz., the planet eartyh) were not pretty much the way it is
then we could not survive here, so we should not be overly surprised
that the environment in which we find ourselves seems fairly suitable
for our existence.

>If one looks at the argument as a syllogism:
>  P   Man exists.
>  P   The universe is arranged for man.
>  C   Therefore, man exists.

That isn't much of a syllogism since the second term is unneccesary: it
reduces to :

        P  Man exists.
        P  Therefore, man exists.

The weak anthropic principle suggests at the most that either we are
adapted to our environment or that our environment is adapted to be
suitable for us or both--how that adaptation takes place, whether as an
act of god or as the result of Darwinian processes or as the result of
something else, is not hinted at by the weak principle.

As I recall, the strong version of the anthropic principle is mixed up
with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.  It runs
something like this:  according to the Copenhagen interpretation of
quantum mechanics, nothing exists (_in esse_, as opposed to _in
posse_) unless and until it is observed by an observer (and the wave
function collapses or whatever).  Now it follows that, since we are the
ones who observe the universe as existing, it is our observation that
brings the universe (including ourselves and all of its history) into
existence.  Thus the universe could not have come into existence if it
were not certain that we (or some other observer(s)?) would come into
existenc to observe it.  In the strong version, the universe _has_ to be
fit for us, because it couldn't exist without us.

>At best, this seems to be circular.  Is it? Or have I oversimplified the
>argument? I am interested in references to and refutations of the Anthropic
>Principle. And how does the 'weak' principle differ from the 'strong'
>principle?

The weak version doesn't have much, if any, circularity.  The strong
version exhibits triangularity more than it does circularity:  we are
supported by the universe's being as it is and the universe is supported
by our being as we are.  And whatever circularity there is, it isn't
vicious.

From an historical point of view both principles suggest a coevolution
of ourselves and our environment.  At least that is what they suggest if
one is not very open to teleological explanations.

Peter D. Junger

Case Western Reserve University Law School, Cleveland, OH
Internet:  JUNGER@SAMSARA.LAW.CWRU.Edu -- Bitnet:  JUNGER@CWRU

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<10:6>From ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu  Wed Jun  1 09:07:12 1994

Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 10:09:24 -0400
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu (Jeremy Creighton Ahouse)
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution Lamarckian?

        "If the analogy between genetic and cultural evolution holds, the
same theories and concepts should explain both."(1)  Those who would allow
the inheritance of acquired characters in culture are presumably layering
this idea over a framework of differential survival of characters (a
selectionist frame).
        One challenge to analogizing cultural "traits" and their changes
over time with any of the definitions of biological evolution (change in
gene frequencies, change in fitness, change in form,...) is in defining
"trait."  This is a challenge for Darwinist thinking as well.  (I suspect
that part of the reason for the popularity of "evolution = change in gene
frequencies" is that it gives the impression of firm ground.)
        Mark Ridley addresses this kind of difficulty when dealing with
"memes" (Dawkins' cultural gene analog) in a recent essay in New Scientist
(1).  Ridley wonders aloud how we are to tell the difference between memes
and everything else in culture.  I think this caution extends to current
discussion of cultural evolution of "artifacts, fashions, ideas, styles,
themes, etc."
        I recall having a similar reaction to reading papers in
evolutionary epistemology (scientific theories competing with each other in
their struggle for existence).  It was never clear to me what the specific
analogs in biology were (what is the playing field for the struggle?).
Another way to say this is, "What are the vehicles?" and "What are the
replicators?"  Even if this notion of vehicles and replicators seems to
straight-jacket me into a narrow view of "evolution" there are other
abstract decompositions of the core of biological evolution (heritability,
fitness, & selection) whose terms should be strongly represented in the
cultural or epistemological context (Sober's Type III models (2)).

        Having said this, I am drawn to the suggestion that differential
survival happens at every level, in every discourse, and in each tale we
tell.  But the details are still a challenge.  I also want to acknowledge
that I am not comfortable with the glib "evolution = changes in gene
frequencies" so I don't want to insist that cultural evolution find its
"genes" and become caricature sociology the way that much molecular
evolution has become caricature biology.

        thank you all for a wonderful discussion forum.

        - Jeremy

(1) Mark Ridley, _Infected with Science_ New Scientist (12/25/93 p22-24).
Ridley suggests that rational thinking is invading a backdrop of religious
oriented "brains."  As fun as this suggestion is (the letters to the editor
left folks squirming about how their religious beliefs _were_ rational).  I
was left wondering how centered on a Judeo-Christian style of religion this
argument was.

(2) Elliot Sober _Philosophy of Biology_ 1993 Westview Press.  Sober
discusses sociobiology and Evolutionary Theory in Ch 7 of this book.  He
breaks down selection models into 3 groups.  Type I the behavior is
inherited via genes and the fitness is a function of number of offspring.
Type II the relevant phenotypes are no longer genetically transmitted but
fitness is still measured in reproductive success.  In Type III models
transmission is not genetic and fitness is not measured in number of
babies.

____________________________________________________________________
Jeremy Creighton Ahouse (ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu)
Biology Dept.
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA 02254-9110
(617) 736-4954

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:7>From LKNYHART@macc.wisc.edu  Wed Jun  1 09:30:00 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 94 09:29 CDT
From: Lynn K. Nyhart <LKNYHART@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution Lamar
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

I am frustrated not to know who wrote the piece excerpted under the RE: heading
"Cultural Evolution Lamar..." (at least, it said something like that on my
screen).  Anyway, it discussed analogies and disanalogies between cultural
evolution, Lamarckism, and Darwinism.  I realize this was just an excerpt, but
how can you discuss various evolutionary philosophies of the development of
science and not bring up David Hull's _Science as a Process_?  He goes through
evolutionary analogies (and disanalogies) quite carefully, and should at least
be on the list, whatever one thinks of the details of his analogizing.

Lynn Nyhart
lknyhart@macc.wisc.edu
Dept. of History of Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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<10:8>From madsen@u.washington.edu  Wed Jun  1 13:13:28 1994

Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 11:13:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mark Madsen <madsen@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution Lamarckian?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Tue, 31 May 1994, Gessler, Nicholas (G) ANTHRO wrote:

> alternatively we could expand the concept of evolution to include
> non-biological (that is cultural) phenomena.  Many anthropologists choose the
> latter.   Among those who do, most argue that cultural evolution is entirely
> Lamarckian.  I would say that it is both Lamarckian and Darwinian.

I agree that the second course (expanding evolutionary theory to include
culture as a mechanism for the transmission of heritable variation) is
the appropriate option.

I think, however, that the issue of Lamarckian versus Darwinian modes of
evolution is far from solved, principally due to the lack of explicit
discussion of the units upon which selection etc. act in the cultural
case.  If I understand the Lamarckian mode of evolution correctly, we are
discussing situations where phenotypic variants acquired by an individual
during ontogeny are incorporated into heritable variation passed on to
new "generations" of individuals.

*If* one argues that the fundamental unit of evolution in Homo sapiens is
the biological organism, then it is clear that cultural transmission can
appear Lamarckian, yet also be subject to Darwinian mechanisms of
evolution.

On the other hand, if the units of evolution are, following Hull, Sober,
Lloyd, and others, defined on the basis of explaining changes in a trait
T, by applying Lewontin's three criteria for selection to occur, then an
entirely different picture is possible.  Selection for a trait that
happens to be culturally transmitted need not require the death or
reproduction of the biological organism -- merely the continued cultural
reproduction of the trait.

A useful parallel is the evolution of clonal organisms, in which the line
between "development" and "reproduction" is extremely blurred.  Leo Buss
argues that there is no distinction between germ-line and soma-line
cells, and thus no distinction to be made between somatic replication and
germ-line replication.  Thus *all* replication of genetic material and
its translation into phenotype is "reproduction" and is subject to
selection.  Weissmann's doctrine and the "central dogma" of molecular
biology cease to be meaningful distinctions, and thus the distinction
between Lamarckian and Darwinian modes of evolution disappears -- all
evolution is Darwinian, what differs is the mode of inheritance.

The parallel to cultural transmission is striking, in my view, and I
strongly recommend Jackson, Buss and Cook's edited volume "Population
Biology and Evolution in Clonal Organisms", 1985, (or some title close
to that) for its radically different view of the overall "shape" of the
evolutionary process.  In searching for an expansion of evolutionary theory to
include cultural modes of inheritance, sexually reproducing vertebrates with
germ-line sequestering of heritable information probably aren't the best models
to use.  The distinction between Lamarckian and Darwinian modes of evolution
may not be very relevant to much of life on earth, including cultural
inheritance in humans.

-----------------------------------------
Mark E. Madsen
Dept. of Anthropology, DH-05
University of Washington
Seattle WA  98195
(206) 543-5240 FAX 543-3285
Internet:  madsen@u.washington.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:9>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu  Wed Jun  1 14:25:22 1994

Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 14:24:46 -0500
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Culture & Science Not Lamarckian

In response to commenst on the Lamarckian nature of culture, I have
appended here two extracts from a book I am completing entitled WITHOUT
MIRACLES: UNIVERSAL SELECTION THEORY AND THE EVOLUTION OF KNOWLEDGE to be
published (I hope) by MIT Press next spring.

I'm just throwing this in the pot now.  I hope to get back to some of the
specific points already raised later.  Comments and criticism (i.e.,
selection pressure) on these blind variations of my own are most
welcome--Gary

P.S.  Readers of Darwin-L might find Plotkin's new book of interest
(perhaps it has already been discussed here?  I am a new subscriber).  It
is in many ways consistent with mine, although I believe he also slips a
bit into the "culture as Lamarckian" error.

Plotkin, Henry. (1994).  DARWIN MACHINES AND THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

===================================================================
Extracts from WITHOUT MIRACLES (sans footnotes & references):

I.

Differences in the transmission of accumulated knowledge between biological
(genetic) and scientific systems has also been emphasized by opponents of
selection-theory epistemology.  It has been suggested, even by such
internationally recognized experts in biological evolution as Stephen J.
Gould  and Richard Dawkins,  that the cultural transmission of ideas
(including scientific ones) is a type of Lamarckian, instructionist process
since the knowledge discovered by one individual can be promptly passed on
to another.  In this sense there appears to be a type of inheritance (or at
least transmission) of acquired characteristics, of a type that simply does
not seem possible in biological evolution.

However, such a Lamarckian, instructionist view of scientific and cultural
knowledge encounters severe difficulties.  Certainly, a strict Lamarckian
interpretation of the growth of scientific knowledge is untenable since "in
order for sociocultural evolution to be Lamarckian in a literal sense, the
ideas that we acquire by interacting with our environment must somehow
become programmed into our genes and then transmitted to subsequent
generations."

But even if a less literal interpretation of Lamarckism were applied to
human knowledge, there are still imposing problems.  As we have seen in
Chapters LANGUAGE and EDUCATION, knowledge cannot simply be transmitted
from one individual to another, either by language or any other means
currently known.  Instead, the very process of understanding the ideas of
another, whether expressed in oral or written language or other signs or
gestures, requires the active generation of a variety of candidate ideas on
the part of the "receiver" and the subsequent selection of the best ones.
Virtually all modern theories of learning, education, and knowledge
acquisition emphasize the active role of the learner in the construction of
meaning, even if these theories do not explicitly embrace a selectionist
account of communication.

So while scientific and cultural knowledge may appear to be transmitted
from individual to individual and from generation to generation via a
Lamarckian transmission of information from one human brain to another,
this seems as unlikely as it is for biological evolution.  For Lamarckian
transmission of ideas to take place, there would have to be some way in
which the knowledge contained in my brain could be transferred to yours in
the same way that I can copy the computer file containing this chapter on
my diskette to your diskette.  While it is possible that a instructionist
technique for copying the contents of one brain to another could in the
future be developed (perhaps by reading the pattern of synapses in one
brain and then rewiring part of another brain to match this pattern), until
that time we must tolerate the rather slow (although still many orders of
magnitude faster than biological evolution) and inefficient necessity of
rediscovering the knowledge of others, using language and educational
settings as facilitators of this creative, selectionist process.

II.

The argument against blindness in the variations of thought and theory
leading to advances in human knowledge is that while in biological
evolution the generation of genetic variations may indeed be blind, the
growth of human knowledge is consciously and purposely directed toward
finding solutions to specific problems.  As philosopher of science and
cognitive scientist Paul Thagard has argued:

"Whereas genetic variation in organisms is not induced by the environmental
conditions in which the individual is struggling to survive, scientific
innovations are designed by their creators to solve recognized problems;
they therefore are correlated with solutions to problems . . .  Scientists
also commonly seek new hypotheses that will correct error in their previous
trials . . .  "

But, we must ask, how does the fact that scientists have purposes (which
few would doubt) provide emancipation from the necessity of blind
variations in pushing back the frontiers of knowledge?  The fact that a
young scientist may be spending almost all of her waking hours in pursuit
of room-temperature superconductivity does not, unfortunately, provide her
with any clairvoyance as to the final solution (if one does exist).
Stating that these variations are "correlated with solutions to problems"
begs the question as to how such prior guiding knowledge might have been
achieved in the first place.  Certainly, our scientist, unlike evolution,
has a goal and the methodological and theoretical variations she generates
are produced in an attempt to accomplish this goal.  But to the extent that
new discoveries are made for which prior knowledge did not exist, this
growth of scientific or technological knowledge is possible only through
the production and testing of new experimental variations whose outcome is
unknown until tested.   As Campbell has put it, "rather than foresighted
variation, hindsighted selection is the secret of rational innovation."

But we must be careful to make clear what is meant by blind in this
context.  First, blindness does not imply that all variations are equally
probable.  For this reason, the word random is probably not a suitable
descriptor since to some it may well carry this connotation.  Second,
blindness does not mean that the process of producing variations of ideas,
theories, and experiments for testing is necessarily unconstrained.  Our
superconductivity-seeking scientist is not likely to throw just anything
into her concoction of chemicals, such as some of last night's leftover
stew.  Instead, she will rationally try out those substances in those
proportions and under those conditions which she believes (based on her
knowledge of previous research and current theory) have the greatest chance
of success.

So it cannot be denied that this previously achieved knowledge has an
important role to play in constraining the variations to be investigated.
Nonetheless, the new concoction is still a blind variation in the sense
that the scientist simply does not know (and cannot know) if the resulting
material will be an improvement over previous ones.  It is in this
important sense that the variation, although far from random and
unconstrained, nonetheless remains blind.  The manner in which you grope
about in a darkened room to find the light switch changes significantly
after making contact with the wall on which the light switch is located.
What were three dimensional gropings now become two-dimensional ones.  And
as you encounter the molding along which you know the switch is located,
your gropings become further constrained to just one dimension.  But while
your gropings may become progressively and usefully constrained over time,
the fact of the matter remains that there is an unavoidable blind component
to all these gropings until the switch is actually found.  The same could
be argued--although it is a much harder sell--about our use of vision to
find objects and help us navigate around our environment.

To the extent, however, that constraints are effective in advancing
knowledge (for example, whatever it is that prevents our scientist from
adding her stew to her would-be superconducting material), they also must
be viewed as puzzles of fit.  And unless we are to return to providential
or instructionist explanations for the existence of these adaptive
constraints, they can only be explained as the product of prior blind
variation and selection.   As such, they may be well suited to guiding
research into new, unexplored areas.  But their fallible nature must also
be recognized, and the use of such constraints in finding answers to new
problems may on occasion hinder progress rather than facilitate it.  So,
"it is not only the case that there is no prescience about which variations
will lead to success, there is also no prescience about what part of the
wisdom already achieved must be abandoned in order to go beyond it.  In
exploring new regions the cognitive constraint system is itself up for
grabs."

III.

It has also been argued that the process of selection in the advancement of
human knowledge is very different from the natural selection of organisms
in biological evolution.  Again, Thagard contrasts humans as intentional
agents in their role as selectors of theories in the growth of scientific
knowledge with the purposeless natural selection of organisms in biological
evolution.

"The differences between epistemological and biological selection arise
from the fact that theory selection is performed by intentional agents
working with a set of criteria, whereas natural selection is the result of
different survival rates of the organism bearing adaptive genes."

This certainly is a noteworthy difference between natural selection and the
selection of theories by scientists.  But we must again ask ourselves how
this difference in any way invalidates a selectionist explanation of
scientific advancement.  In biological evolution, those organisms which by
the luck of their genome are better suited to their environment leave
behind more progeny (and therefore more copies of their genes) than those
less well adapted.  It is this winnowing away of the less fit organisms and
not any foresightedness or clairvoyance on the part of the genetic
variations that is responsible for the fit of organism to environment.  And
different environments result in the selection of different
adaptations--such as wings and lungs for air, and fins and gills for water.

Similarly, science progresses by the selection of those theories which
better fit the criteria used by scientists--criteria such as explanatory
power and parsimony.  This is not to deny that there may be certain
practices and criteria used by scientists and communities of scientists
which may be irrelevant or even detrimental to the progress of science,
such as the tendency to fund or follow a line a research due solely the
prestige or popularity of its leading exponent.  But insofar as science
becomes progressively better at describing and explaining the objects,
forces, and processes found in our universe, it must be because this
universe somehow "reaches" into the experiments and thoughts of scientists
and plays some role in determining which theories and hunches will be
retained.

It has also been noted that while biological evolution shows divergence
leading to a great diversity of life forms, science in marked contrast
ultimately leads to convergence.  The biosphere is rich in many types of
different life forms, but physicists the world over use the same theories
of relativity and quantum physics to account for and predict the mechanical
events of our universe.  This difference has been taken by some as evidence
that organic evolution and conceptual development must be fundamentally
different.  Thagard accounts for this difference by stating that:

"survival of theories is the result of satisfaction of global criteria,
criteria that apply over the whole range of science.  But survival of genes
is the result of satisfaction of local criteria, generated by a particular
environment.  Scientific communities are unlike natural environments in
their ability to apply general standards."

But then how is it that scientific communities are able to apply "general
standards?"  Is it not because the local criteria of modern scientists are
much the same no matter where on the globe they may be located?  The most
obvious explanation for why scientific theories tend to converge is that
they all share a very similar local environment.  Light behaves very much
the same in Sri Lanka as it does in Switzerland.  So do falling bodies,
chemical reactions, and cell division.  Indeed, much of the technology and
effort of scientific research is directed toward making sure that
experiments are conducted under highly controlled conditions which can be
performed elsewhere with the same results so that a successful experiment
revealing a new regularity of nature should be replicable by other
scientists with similar equipment anywhere in the world.  In addition, the
goals of scientists are much the same everywhere in their search for
powerful yet simple theories with high explanatory and predictive powers.
American Biologist and philosopher David Hull addresses this issue in
pointing out that:

"Conceptual evolution, especially in science, is both locally and globally
progressive, not because scientists are conscious agents, not because they
are striving to reach both local and global goals, but because these goals
do exist.  Eternal and immutable regularities exist out there in nature.
If scientists did not strive to formulate laws of nature, they would
discover them only by happy accident, but if these eternal, immutable
regularities, did not exist, any belief that a scientist might have that he
or she had discovered one would be illusory."

So in spite of the differences between biological evolution and the work of
scientists, one can argue that scientific theories, like organisms, develop
as they are edited by the selection pressures of their environments, which,
although local, nonetheless reflect both universal (as far as we know)
regularities of nature and the shared practices, beliefs, and goals of
modern earth-bound scientists.  The unavoidable local nature of these
apparently global criteria may some day be made quite clear when life is
discovered on another planet which does not conform to terrestrial theories
of life, or when it is revealed that the laws of physics in the vicinity of
black holes have little resemblance to those that have been developed to
account for phenomena closer to home.

It should also be kept in mind that biological evolution, like science,
also shows convergence when similar problems are confronted in similar
environments, even by quite different organisms.  The case of flight is
perhaps the most striking example of this convergence, with the
asymmetrically curved wing having evolved independently in insects,
reptiles (the extinct pterosaurs), flying fish, birds, and mammals (i.e.,
bats).  In fact, it is this phenomenon of convergence that makes it
difficult for biologists to disentangle the phylogenetic relationships
among organisms based on physical appearance alone; just because two
organisms share a common feature, this does not necessarily mean that they
are close to each other on the phylogenetic tree.  Likewise, just because
two scientists may come up with the same theory to solve some problem, this
does not necessarily indicate that one of the scientists took the idea from
the other.  The independent discovery of natural selection to explain the
origin of species by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace is a
case in point.

So while certain aspects of selection may at first appear different in
biological evolution and scientific development, its basic function of
eliminating the less fit and retaining the fitter appears very much the
same.  As Donald Campbell put it so simply, "rather than foresighted
variation, hindsighted selection is the secret of rational innovation."
And this "hindsighted selection" is as much a feature of scientific
discovery as it is of organic evolution.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Gary A. Cziko
Associate Professor              Telephone 217-333-8527
Educational Psychology           FAX: 217-244-7620
University of Illinois           E-mail: g-cziko@uiuc.edu
1310 S. Sixth Street             Radio: N9MJZ
210 Education Building
Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990
-------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:10>From kent@darwin.eeb.uconn.edu  Wed Jun  1 16:20:10 1994

Date: Wed, 1 Jun 94 17:20:56 EDT
From: kent@darwin.eeb.uconn.edu (Kent Holsinger)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re:  Culture & Science Not Lamarckian

In the course of his interesting post, Gary Cziko asserts the following:

>   For Lamarckian
>   transmission of ideas to take place, there would have to be some way in
>   which the knowledge contained in my brain could be transferred to yours in
>   the same way that I can copy the computer file containing this chapter on
>   my diskette to your diskette.

Perhaps I have been misconstruing what is commonly meant by Lamarckian
evolution all along, but I have never construed it in the way Gary is
suggesting.  Lamarckian inheritance, better called "soft inheritance" as
Ernst Mayr is fond of pointing out, refers to the transmission of traits
acquired by an individual during its lifetime to its offspring.  The
difference between Lamarckian inheritance and Mendelian inheritance is
easiest to see if we consider the distinction between genotype and phenotype.

In Mendelian inheritance the phenotype of an individual is the result of a
particular genotype developing in a particular environment, but only the
*genes* that individual carries are passed on to its offspring.  The
individual may acquire many different phenotypic traits as a result of
exposure to a range of environments, but those acquired traits are not
passed on to its offspring.  The hereditary material is unaffected by the
environments to which an individual is exposed.

In Lamarckian inheritance not only may an individual acquire many different
phenotypic traits as a result of exposure to a range of environments, those
acquired traits are passed on (to some extent) to its offspring.  The
hereditary material *is* affected by the environments to which it is
exposed.  To my mind this last point is the critical distinction: does the
acquisition of new characteristics by an individual or the modification of
those traits in an individual affect their transmission to its offspring.
If so, the inheritance is Lamarckian.  If not, it is Mendelian.

Using that distinction, there are ways in which cultural *inheritance*
seems clearly Lamarckian.  I *hope* that I am acquiring new knowledge and an
improved understanding of the world through my work.  Certainly, my
understanding of the world is different now from what it was five years
ago.  When I teach a class in evolutionary biology, I transmit to my students
what I believe to be the best current thinking about a range of issues.  To
the extent that I am responsible for their learning at all, they acquire
*only* what *I* perceive to be the best current understanding.  I transmit
to them *only* what *I* have acquired.  I do not transmit to them some
Chomskian deep-structure (forgive me linguists if the analogy is inappropriate)
from which they derive their own understanding, nor do I somehow alter the
composition of their genes.  Evolution by natural selection requires *only*
that offspring resemble their parents.  It does not specify what mechanism
produces that resemblance.

Perhaps the confusion arises from the term Lamarckian *evolution*.  I think
it would be better to talk about Lamarckian *inheritance*.  Natural selection
concerns the mechanics of which individuals (in a very broad sense)
reproduce and how successful they are when they do reproduce.  Inheritance
concerns the patterns that govern how offspring resemble their parents.  It
is entirely conceivable (in fact, from my limited understanding I think it
likely) that cultural evolution receives some of its directionality (I won't
say progress) from natural selection, and that the transmission processes
include some Lamarckian aspects.

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Kent E. Holsinger                 Internet: Kent@Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu  |
| Department of Ecology &                     Holsinge@UConnVM.UConn.Edu |
|    Evolutionary Biology           BITNET:   Holsinge@UConnVM           |
| University of Connecticut, U-43                                        |
| Storrs, CT   06269-3043                                                |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:11>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Wed Jun  1 19:45:46 1994

Date: Wed, 01 Jun 1994 20:45:38 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Asa Gray
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

The following comes from a Darwin-L member who was having trouble
posting it.  Please reply either privately to him or to the list.

Bob O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)

---------------------------------------

I'm writing a "retrospective" piece for -Reviews in American History-
on Hunter Dupree's -Asa Gray- (1959).  I am curious to know whether
any of the members of the Darwin list know the book and what thoughts
thay might have about it, or Asa Gray, for that matter.

Chandos Michael Brown, Director
Commonwealth Center for the Study of American Culture
College of William and Mary

cmbrow@mail.wm.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:12>From sarich@qal.berkeley.edu  Wed Jun  1 22:51:11 1994

From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 20:50:51 -0700
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Essences

The recent dialogue about essences and essentialism gives me the opportunity
to again wonder whether there is a good deal less here than Mayr, Gould, O'Hara
-- and, of course, many, many, others -- would have us believe.  Only this time
I'm going to wonder in public.

And what I wonder about is how it came to be that essences came to have the
attributes <fixed, unchanging>? And thus anti-evolutionary, so that
essentialism came to be a long four-letter word used to whip those who refused
to get into ideological step with the populationists.  My argument is that
essence and essential, in ordinary English usage, do not connote fixed and/or
unchanging.  That was always my sense of their meaning, and a perusal of the
various definitions and examples of usage for the two words in the Oxford
Universal Dictionary: 1933/55 confirms that the compilers of that work would
have agreed with me.  There is nothing there about fixed or unchanging. But
when I turn to the American Heritage Dictionary -- vintage late 70s -- I find
as one of the definitions for essence <the inherent, unchanging nature of a
thing or class of things, as distinguished from its existence>; and I ask, what
kind of English is this? What happened between 1930 and 1980? When did this
<inherent, unchanging> bit come to be part of the <essence of essence>?  Is it
simply that the dominant schools of philosophy of the last 50 years given
essence and essential meanings which people using the words before that time
would not necessarily have associated with them -- and which most of us still
would't?  How did Plato come to triumph over Aristotle and actual English
usage? I here refer to Phillipson's comment that: in disciplinarized philosophy
this is the question of <universals>: whether such ideas as <virtue>, <chair>,
or <arithmetic> belong to an independent universe of real Platonic forms,
replicated in our experienced world with more or less accuracy, or are invented
<Aristotelian> generalizations about the experienced world .... Bertrand
Russell, in his Wisdom of the West, put it another way <The existentialist
principle is sometimes expressed as stating that existence is prior to essence.
Another way of putting it would be to say that first we know that a thing is,
and afterwards what it is.  Again, this amounts to putting the particular
before the universal, or Aristotle before Plato>.

So, I ask, why are we accused -- by Mayr, et al -- of seeing only Platonic
essences, when, in fact, common English usage clearly leans much more toward
the Aristotelian.  Or are Aristotelian essences somehow not as <real> or <good>
or <essential> essences precisely because they are not Platonic??

I think there is a real directionality problem here. When we thought of
species, or the structure of the earth, as fixed and immutable, we of course,
as good Aristotelians, then necessarily thought of their essences as also fixed
and immutable.  But note the directionality here.  It wasn't that we thought
that species were fixed and immutable because they had essences; it was that
everything had an essence or essences, and if the thing itself was seen as
immutable, then so was its essence.  I am obviously aware that some would
disagree with that logic -- going all the way back, as already noted, to Plato
and Aristotle -- but isn't that, in a sense, the point?  This is not something
on which our species has come to any sort of intellectual agreement, and it
seems to me that my way of looking at this is at least respectable, and, even,
very likely the way most English speakers would look at it.

So where am I wrong? Whom should read to get the correct message?  Please
don't suggest Mike Ghiselin. He and I long ago agreed to disagree on this
issue. When he tells me that there is no essence of being human, then I turn
off, because, even though it sounds as though he is speaking English, the
message is clearly in a foreign tongue with which I have no familiarity.

How many of you would agree that there is no essence of Homo, or of English?
And if you do, what argument do you use to convince yourself, or, of even
greater interest, your students?

Vincent Sarich
sarich@qal.berkeley.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:13>From Kim.Sterelny@vuw.ac.nz  Wed Jun  1 23:44:04 1994

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 16:43:58 +1200
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: Kim.Sterelny@vuw.ac.nz
Subject: Re: Essences

I agree with Vincent Sarich that the debate about species' essences has
been put in very misleading ways. In particular, the idea of whether
species are logical individuals (hence essence-free) or sets (in which case
their essences are the conditions of set membership) is a rotten way of
posing a real debate.Philip Kitcher pointed out in his species' papers that
these approaches are intedefinable. Of course species have essences on the
hull-ghiselin and mayr conceptions of species. The issue rather was whether
the essences, the condions of species membership, were historical and
relational (on hull's, ghiselin's and mayr's views) or intrinsic
characteristics of the organisms in question, as on eg phenetic views. On
eg the hull-ghiselin line, homo has an essence alright, but its a
historical property or complex of historical properties; species are
essentially historical. I know Hull is happy with this way of framing the
issues, as he pointed out in his first species paper the the individuals
versus sets is just a way of framing the critical question about the role
of historical processes in defining species. I do though think we should
see that there may have been a fair rhetorical point in framing the issue
in the way they did, and that is to emphasize the naturalness of variation
in species, and the unprofitability of seeing that variation as noise
around an ideal archtype. Of course in principle its possible to have the
right conception of variability and think of species as having essences. In
pratice though, jumping up and down about variation was probably a good
idea.

kim sterelny
philosophy
victoria university of wellington

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:14>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu  Thu Jun  2 00:10:57 1994

Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 12:11:11 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re:  Culture & Science Not Lamarckian

Ken Holsinger said:

>In Lamarckian inheritance not only may an individual acquire many different
>phenotypic traits as a result of exposure to a range of environments, those
>acquired traits are passed on (to some extent) to its offspring.  The
>hereditary material *is* affected by the environments to which it is
>exposed.  To my mind this last point is the critical distinction: does the
>acquisition of new characteristics by an individual or the modification of
>those traits in an individual affect their transmission to its offspring.  If
>so, the inheritance is Lamarckian.  If not, it is Mendelian.

I suspect part of the difference in opinion here is due to different
meanings for terms like Lamarckian, Mendelian, and Darwinian.

I am actually using "Lamarckian" as a synonym for "instructionist" and
Darwinian for "selectionist" (but this is somewhat flawed since Darwin was
Lamarckian as well).  By instructionist I mean a process by which the
environment somehow directly causes certain adaptive changes in the
organism.  I suppose getting sunburn would be instructionist.  The
(invalid) template theory of the production of antibodies is a better
example of an instructionist theory.  By selectionist I mean a process
whereby the organisms creates variations of some sort which are unrelated
to the effects of the environment.  The environment serves only to select
those variations which will survive.  The currently accepted
clonal-selection theory of antibody production is a selectionist theory.

>Using that distinction, there are ways in which cultural *inheritance*
>seems clearly Lamarckian.  I *hope* that I am acquiring new knowledge and an
>improved understanding of the world through my work.  Certainly, my
>understanding of the world is different now from what it was five years
>ago.

I don't doubt it.  But I submit that the process by which you gain this
knowledge is a selectionist process.  The environment doesn't instruct you.
YOU create ideas, theories, conjectures, etc. and the environment serves
to eliminate some and not others.  The latter are your best current
understanding of how things "work," but this is probably wrong as well
(although likely better than what you believed previously).

>When I teach a class in evolutionary biology, I transmit to my students
>what I believe to be the best current thinking about a range of issues.  To
>the extent that I am responsible for their learning at all, they acquire
>*only* what *I* perceive to be the best current understanding.

Most current psychological and educational theory (going back as far as
Dewey and Piaget) suggests that you are seriously mistaken here.  Your
students don't acquire what you instruct (don't you grade their exams and
read their papers?).  They create their own knowledge with you as part of
their  environment to select which ideas stay and which don't.  It may look
like you transmit knowledge to them, but they are active constructors of
their own knowledge.  There is no direct link between the vibration of your
words on your students' eardrums and the re-arrangement of their brains'
synapses, in the same way that antigen does not instruct antibody and
environment does not instruct the genome.

Gerald Edelman, Jean-Pierre Changex, and William Calvin (and others) have
argued that the brain itself is a Darwin (selectionist) machine.  What I
find so intriguing  about recent developments in fields such as psychology,
education, immunology, and neuroscience is the convergence that variation
and selection occurs not only between organisms in organic evolution over
phylogenetic time, but also WITHIN organisms in somatic time.  There is
very solid evidence for this in immunology, and fairly solid evidence as
well in the neurosciences.  Plotkin's book (mentioned earlier) provides a
good argument from the psychological perspective.  My book provides
selectionist perspectives from many other fields as well.

--Gary

P.S.  I am quite pleased to be able to have this type of discussion with
individuals like Ken and others on Darwin-L who are certainly much more
knowledgeable about biological evolution than I am.  An interesting
environment indeed in which to try out my ideas.

====================================================================
The question is this: is man an ape or an angel? I am on the side of the
angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence these new-fangled
theories.
- Benjamin Disraeli

There is no more reason to believe that man descended from some inferior
animal than there is to believe that a stately mansion has descended from a
small cottage.
- William Jennings Bryan

One touch of Darwin makes the whole world kin.
- George Bernard Shaw

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:15>From kent@darwin.eeb.uconn.edu  Thu Jun  2 07:02:40 1994

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 94 08:03:38 EDT
From: kent@darwin.eeb.uconn.edu (Kent Holsinger)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re:  Culture & Science Not Lamarckian

Gary Cziko writes:
>   I am actually using "Lamarckian" as a synonym for "instructionist" and
>   Darwinian for "selectionist" (but this is somewhat flawed since Darwin was
>   Lamarckian as well).  By instructionist I mean a process by which the
>   environment somehow directly causes certain adaptive changes in the
>   organism.  I suppose getting sunburn would be instructionist.  The
>   (invalid) template theory of the production of antibodies is a better
>   example of an instructionist theory.  By selectionist I mean a process
>   whereby the organisms creates variations of some sort which are unrelated
>   to the effects of the environment.  The environment serves only to select
>   those variations which will survive.  The currently accepted
>   clonal-selection theory of antibody production is a selectionist theory.

That clears up a lot.  I think that we don't actually disagree (I suspected
as much all along), we were merely using the term "Lamarckian" to apply to
different aspects of evolutionary thinking.  The tradition in evolutionary
biology is to call an evolutionary process Lamarckian if it involves the
inheritance of acquired characters, or at least that has been *my* tradition.
Mayr has pointed out on many occasions that this isn't a very accurate way
to talk about it since Darwin also accepted the inheritance of acquired
characters and Lamarck's evolutionary theory had several components, but it
is *still* the way the phrase "Lamarckian evolution" is commonly used within
evolutionary biology in my experience.

Gary refers to a different aspect of Lamarck's theory of evolution that
evolutionary biologists commonly ignore, i.e., Lamarck's idea that the
environment could directly induce changes in an individual organism that
are adaptive.  If I'm understanding him correctly, then Gary's assertion
that cultural evolution is not Lamarckian boils down to the idea that the
individuals are active constructors of their own culture through a selective
process in which individuals advance possibilities unrelated to the
environment in which they develop and the environment determines which of
these possibilities are acquired.  (I hope I'm paraphrasing that accurately.)

In short, Gary's focus appears to be on the mechanisms by which *individuals*
acquire cultural characteristics, and he presents what appears to me to be
a convincing case that those mechanisms are Darwinian in the usual sense, i.e.,
variation arises without respect to its adaptive value and the environment in
which that variation is expressed determines which variants are successful.
Others who know more about psychological theory than I will have to assess
the adequacy of his arguments for the role of selection, but it appears
reasonable to me.

My focus, to the extent I think about cultural evolution at all, is on the
processes by which *populations* of individuals change through time.  I think
about it in Cavalli-Sforza & Feldman like terms.  (Marc Feldman was my major
professor, after all.)   For these purposes, I needn't concern myself with
the mechanism by which cultural traits are inherited, only with the pattern
of inheritance.  Although Gary may be correct that a selective mechanism is
responsible for the characteristics individuals acquire, it's still the case
I change my views about evolutionary biology over time, and I am an important
part of my student's environment.  As a result, the environment to which my
students are exposed five years from now will be different, probably in some
significant ways, from the environment to which they are exposed now.  The
knowledge they construct for themselves will be correspondingly different.
Even if the mechanisms involved are *purely* Darwinian, as Gary suggests,
the effect is *as if* it were Lamarckian, viz. characteristics I acquire
are transmitted to my students.

Perhaps that's the critical distinction.  The underlying mechanisms may be
purely Darwinian, but cultural evolution (at the population level) proceeds,
in part, *as if* inheritance of cultural characteristics were Lamarckian.

>   P.S.  I am quite pleased to be able to have this type of discussion with
>   individuals like Ken and others on Darwin-L who are certainly much more
>   knowledgeable about biological evolution than I am.  An interesting
>   environment indeed in which to try out my ideas.

I agree wholeheartedly.  Thanks Bob for making it possible.

-- Kent

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Kent E. Holsinger                 Internet: Kent@Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu  |
| Department of Ecology &                     Holsinge@UConnVM.UConn.Edu |
|    Evolutionary Biology           BITNET:   Holsinge@UConnVM           |
| University of Connecticut, U-43                                        |
| Storrs, CT   06269-3043                                                |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

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<10:16>From phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu  Thu Jun  2 07:43:14 1994

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 08:37:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kelly C. Smith" <phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution Lamarckian?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Wed, 1 Jun 1994, Jeremy Creighton Ahouse wrote:

>         Mark Ridley addresses this kind of difficulty when dealing with
> "memes" (Dawkins' cultural gene analog) in a recent essay in New Scientist
> (1).  Ridley wonders aloud how we are to tell the difference between memes
> and everything else in culture.  I think this caution extends to current
> discussion of cultural evolution of "artifacts, fashions, ideas, styles,
> themes, etc."
>         I recall having a similar reaction to reading papers in
> evolutionary epistemology (scientific theories competing with each other in
> their struggle for existence).  It was never clear to me what the specific
> analogs in biology were (what is the playing field for the struggle?).
> Another way to say this is, "What are the vehicles?" and "What are the
> replicators?"  Even if this notion of vehicles and replicators seems to
> straight-jacket me into a narrow view of "evolution" there are other
> abstract decompositions of the core of biological evolution (heritability,
> fitness, & selection) whose terms should be strongly represented in the
> cultural or epistemological context (Sober's Type III models (2)).
>

I can not resist a comment on the above remarks.  There is no particular
reason that the notion of "replicators" be restricted to genes (ala
Dawkins) or even to genes and organisms (ala Hull).  In fact, it is
perfectly ameanable to a rather radical expansion to include even
non-living entities (nests, etc.).  Kim Sterelney, Mike Dickerson and
myself have just submitted a paper ("The extended replicator") to Biol.
and Phil. making this bizarre claim in case anyone is interested (we are
pleased to note that Dawkins finds it positively perverse).
Kelly Smith
Philosophy, Georgia State Univ.
phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:17>From phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu  Thu Jun  2 07:58:52 1994

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 08:47:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kelly C. Smith" <phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu>
Subject: Re: Culture & Science Not Lamarckian
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Wed, 1 Jun 1994, Kent Holsinger wrote:

> In the course of his interesting post, Gary Cziko asserts the following:
>
> > For Lamarckian
> > transmission of ideas to take place, there would have to be some way in
> > which the knowledge contained in my brain could be transferred to yours in
> > the same way that I can copy the computer file containing this chapter on
> > my diskette to your diskette.

This is just another version of the directness account of replicators
(see Hull).  I have argued elsewhere that the directness account is
fundamentally flawed because  1) genetic replication (the paradigm
replication in most accounts of evolution) is not as direct as is often
claimed, in particular, it is unclear that it is MORE direct that certain
phenotypic replication systems, and  2) the directness of replication is
completely irrelevent to evolution.  Evolution will act on any trait
which is sufficiently HERITABLE (other provisos apply, of course) and
heritability is often conflated with directness.  In fact, genetic
replication is uniquely accurate precisely because it is INDIRECT (in
particular, because it involves complex error-correction mechanisms).
Thus, cultural memes need not be copied by any particular kind of
process, as long as they are reliably copied...

> the difference between Lamarckian inheritance and Mendelian inheritance is
> easiest to see if we consider the distinction between genotype and phenotype.
>
> In Mendelian inheritance the phenotype of an individual is the result of a
> particular genotype developing in a particular environment, but only the
> *genes* that individual carries are passed on to its offspring.  The
> individual may acquire many different phenotypic traits as a result of
> exposure to a range of environments, but those acquired traits are not
> passed on to its offspring.  The hereditary material is unaffected by the
> environments to which an individual is exposed.

Explicating these notion in terms of the genotype-phenotype distinction
is not all that helpful since this distinction itself is relatively
unclear.  It is NOT TRUE that only genes are inherited, all sorts of
things are transmitted alongside the genome in the gametes (e.g.,
centrioles, parasites, etc.).  These extragenetic factors may result in
Lamarkian inheritance or not, depending on the specifics of the
situation.  Even if we restrict ourselves to talking only of genetic
material, it is simply not true that genes can never be effected by
environmental influences (e.g., immunity).

I think I agree with the spirit of most of Kent's other remarks, I just
wanted to tilt at a very persistent windmill or two...

Kelly Smith
Philosophy, Georgia State Univ.
phlkcs@gsusgi2.gsu.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:18>From mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca  Thu Jun  2 11:19:47 1994

From: mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca (Mary P Winsor)
Subject: no subject (file transmission)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (bulletin board)
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 12:19:14 -0400 (EDT)

On the issue of essentialism vs population-thinking:
(warning, it is several pages long!) from
Polly Winsor mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca

Louis Agassiz seemed to be such a perfect example of essentialism that Ernst
Mayr wrote an article claiming that Agassiz's commitment to that philosophy
made him unable to see variation when it was right before his eyes.  (This was
an improvement over earlier historians who blamed Christianity for Agassiz's
anti-evolutionism.)  Mayr named several species of variable fishes which
Agassiz split into species because he couldn't cope with differences.  This
seemed odd to me because I knew that Agassiz, as a museum director, had told
his assistants to collect lots of specimens, since one of the characteristics
he wanted to know about each species was its natural variation!  (In Mayr's
defense, his statement that Agassiz's "disbelief in the existence of
`varieties' forces him to describe several `species' from schools of single
species' was based on information given Mayr by a prominent ichthyologist.)
Whatever the value of Mayr's larger argument (indeed my reading of the Essay on
Classification substantially agrees with his main point) I think I demolished
this fishy claim. (E. Mayr, "Agassiz, Darwin, and Evolution" in his Evolution
and the Diversity of Life, Harvard U.P. 1976, pp. 251-276; M.P. Winsor, "Louis
Agassiz and the species question" Studies in History of Biology, 1979, 3:89-117
[that was a journal published by Johns Hopkins which only went to 7 volumes,
ed. C. Limoges and W. Coleman; I will supply reprint to anyone whose library
lacks it].

We are dealing here with two separate (but connected) issues: the historical
claim and the cognitive claim.  The historical claim is that belief in
essentialism inherited from ancient philosophy helps explain why it took so
long for people to recognize the fact of evolution, the evidence for which is
all around us (note how Darwin appeals to barnyard realities, not requiring
microscopes much less DNA to make his case).  Answer: religious and/or
philosophical prejudice blinkered people's perception of nature.  The cognitive
claim is that if you start to analyze what words mean, how we define them, how
we can have rational understanding of the world, you come to understand that
there exist natural kinds, that they ought to be defined by their essences
rather than accidental variations.  The strongest version of the cognitive
claim points to mathematics, especially euclidean geometry, as the purest
example, and it makes no sense to think of triangles or circles changing:
if the line deviates a hair it is simply no longer a circle.

To investigate the historical question, it is not a bad starting point to
notice where our "common sense" seems at odds with the "common sense" of people
in the past.  Our uniformitarian assumption is that people have not essentially
(!) changed.  But if we are talking about the views of educated people, what
seems obvious to us and to them can indeed be very different.  Mathematics,
philosophy, and religion were central to education for hundreds of years but
can be minor or even absent from 20th c. education.

I agree that the "population vs essentialism" theme of Mayr has been
overstated.  Why was it so easy for Linnaeus to stop believing in fixity of
species once confronted with hybridism and replace it with originally created
genera?  Likewise Buffon on even larger scale (Phil Sloan)?

I would explain the centuries of blindness to evolution differently.  One of
the strongest supports for essentialism was not philosophy, but the other chief
biological mystery: reproduction.  An egg knows what to grow into.  Even
through the complexity of alternation of generations, living things seem to
keep track of their own essential natures.  And evolution is not right before
our eyes, until we start travelling and digging, until we add the dimensions of
geography and paleontology.  It was exactly when these dimensions were added
(museums were the instruments allowing that information to be ordered) that
Lamarck, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Darwin, Wallace could see the world differently.

But the "common sense" view that there exist essences?  Sure, an essence
doesn't have to be fixed or unchanging, and recently Aristotle scholars have
demolished the claim that his were.  The idea that you can say what something
essentially is does not only trace from Plato, it is recreated in the mind of
anyone trying to make sense of the world through language.  Whoever insists
that they can "know" the essence of Homo sapiens can also know the differences
between male and female, life and death.  Of course we do act like we know
these on practical level, statistically, and that rough-and-ready knowledge is
fine as long as we do NOT delude ourselves into thinking the essence has some
independent kind of reality (which Agassiz insisted it did = God's thoughts).
Is this fertilized egg human or not?  Is this lesbian a real woman?  Morally
and politically we have our hands full enough, without tying them (is that a
mixed metaphor?!) by slipping back into the antique belief (or staying with the
"common sense" belief) that just as we can define circles by recognizing their
essence, we can all agree that there exists some essence of humanity which
definitions are reaching for.  The fact that humans, speaking English or any
other language, must put things into categories in order to talk about them,
does not prove that the core of their existence is a definable set of
characters.  What evolution shows me is that the essence of humanity is being a
physical part of an historical lineage.

I am with Bacon that this is one of the "idols" which human flesh is heir to,
one which leads us astray.  I am with Mayr that belief in essences, whether you
allow them to change or call them fixed, should not survive the Darwinian
revolution.

Polly Winsor  mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:19>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Thu Jun  2 12:57:08 1994

Date: Thu, 02 Jun 1994 13:56:52 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: May message log and member list now on Darwin-L gopher
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

The lightly-edited log of our discussions for the month of May is now
available on the Darwin-L gopher (rjohara.uncg.edu).  I have also mounted
a copy of our current membership list in the directory Darwin-L Files, in
case anyone wishes to browse it there.  The most up-to-date membership
list may always be retrieved by sending the message REVIEW DARWIN-L to
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, but I thought some people might like to
have a gopher-accessible copy available for browsing.

If you haven't yet paid a visit to the Darwin-L gopher please feel free
to do so.  It contains logs of all our past discussions, as well as a small
assortment of bibliographies and related files of interest to historical
scientists, and also a collection of gopher links to other network resources
in the historical sciences, from the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, to the
United States Geological Survey, to the ArchNet American archeology server,
to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

Gopher software, for those unfamiliar with it, allows you to explore a wide
variety of databases and other resources scattered across the Internet.  Most
universities have it; try typing "gopher rjohara.uncg.edu" at your mainframe
prompt, or just "gopher" (all without the quotation marks), and see if
anything happens.  If this doesn't seem to work, ask your local computer
specialists for more information.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<10:20>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu  Thu Jun  2 15:30:46 1994

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 15:30:21 -0500
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re:  Culture & Science Not Lamarckian

Kent Holsinger writes:

>Others who know more about psychological theory than I will have to assess
>the adequacy of his arguments for the role of selection, but it appears
>reasonable to me.

Most psychologists that I know see nothing in Darwinian evolution that can
be applied to learning and cognitive processes (most of them appear to know
and care little about evolution).  And many who know something about
natural selection reject it as a useful model for psychology.  There are
exceptions (I, for one; Donald T. Campbell as a more important other), but
not many.  So if any type of a vote is taken, I will certainly lose.

>Perhaps that's the critical distinction.  The underlying mechanisms may be
>purely Darwinian, but cultural evolution (at the population level) proceeds,
>in part, *as if* inheritance of cultural characteristics were Lamarckian.

I agree.  It appears AS IF the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
The view of the Illinois prairie from my office window makes it look AS IF
the world is flat.  The marvelous design of living organisms makes it seem
AS IF some super-intelligent created them.

Perhaps the  progress of science can be characterized as distinguishing the
"reallies" from the "as ifs." --Gary

------------------------------------------------------------------
Gary A. Cziko
Associate Professor              Telephone 217-333-8527
Educational Psychology           FAX: 217-244-7620
University of Illinois           E-mail: g-cziko@uiuc.edu
1310 S. Sixth Street             Radio: N9MJZ
210 Education Building
Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990
-------------------------------------------------------------------

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Darwin-L Message Log 10: 1-20 -- June 1994                                  End

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