Tuesday 9
Some Problematic Concepts in Evolutionary Biology (submitted papers)

› 11:00 - 11:20 (20min)
› 007
Hannibal (The Cannibal) Lecter and (Un)natural Selection
Michael White  1@  
1 : School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University  (SoLS, ASU)  -  Website
Tempe, Arizona 85287 -  United States

Hannibal (‘The Cannibal') Lecter ‘selects for' (‘selects against'?) certain humans. Since having a heart and having kidneys are coextensive traits, the fact that we find deceased humans for which he has selected does not reveal which coextensive phenotypical trait he is selecting for. Suppose that Hannibal is silent about this matter? The truth of one but not of the other following counterfactual conditional would answer the question. (A) If there were humans with hearts but no kidneys, Hannibal would select for them. (B) If there were humans with kidneys but no hearts, Hannibal would select for them. In the absence of appeal to Hannibal's intentions, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini would be skeptical about the existence of any nomologically necessary principles for distinguishing the two conditionals. That is, if we substitute for ‘Hannibal' something like ‘a set of exogenous environmental variables', they are skeptical about whether there exists a fact of the matter concerning which trait is being selected for.

The forensic scientist, however, will not regard the humans selected for as merely ‘black boxes'–i.e., simply human corpses. If the scientist finds, at the crime scenes, corpses selected for with intact hearts and chafing dishes with the remains of deviled kidneys, the question might well be regarded as answered. In this presentation, I follow up on this unlikely analogy: I suggest that F & P-I's critique of natural selection may best be interpreted as an argument in support of Evo-Devo. I additionally argue that there is no incompatibility between certain theories' being science and their being natural history.


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