Re: [asa] What is exactly is a TE?

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Oct 01 2007 - 13:38:00 EDT

The specific aspects of Marxism that I am familiar with as invoking
evolution is the claim that societies inherently go through a series
of stages in a certain order and that it is scientific to claim that
progress towards the proletariat-ruled state is ethically desirable.
Neither is justifiable from modern evolutionary biology.

The evolutionary heritage of humans does provide a lot of useful
insights into human behavior. However, humans do not always behave in
manners that advance their own evolutionary success. Also, both the
contingent and the unoptimized nature of evolution means that no
organism can be fully described and explained by evolutionary first
principles alone. I.e., evolution is a product of history and the
environment as well as of genetic factors, and provides something that
works well enough to survive and reproduce. Particular details may
include features that happen to be linked to a benefit and carry no
benefit of their own, or randomly arisen characters that don't cause
enough trouble to disappear. It's always possible to come up with
just so stories as to how a trait might arise and persist, but without
some solid data as to why a particular feature exists and not some
other possibilities, the explanation has little scientific merit.
Humans in particular, with their exceptional mental capacities, have
the ability to choose a wide range of options in their behavior and
are thus difficult to predict in detail, though often the majority
tend to do certain things under certain conditions.

I think most cosmological change is not mathematically random but
rather computationally intractible (e.g., if you knew the precise
distribution and type of matter and energy produced by the big bang,
and had enough computing capacity, you could predict the precise
distribution of galaxies, etc.) I think I was thinking of evolution
as intrinsic (in the sense that the thing changes without outside
interference, not that a particular pattern of change is inevitable)
change over time, which would apply to cosmology, culture, etc.
However, inclusion of random in the definition of evolution restricts
it (noting that random needs defined).

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Oct 1 13:38:40 2007

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