World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Evolutionary epistemology

Article Id: WHEBN0001960343
Reproduction Date:

Title: Evolutionary epistemology  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Derek Cabrera, Universal Darwinism, Cultural selection theory, Epistemology, Internalism and externalism
Collection: Epistemological Theories, Evolution, Internalism and Externalism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Evolutionary epistemology

Evolutionary epistemology refers to three distinct topics: (1) the biological evolution of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans, (2) a theory that knowledge itself evolves by natural selection, and (3) the study of the historical discovery of new abstract entities such as abstract number or abstract value that necessarily precede the individual acquisition and usage of such abstractions.

Contents

  • A theory about cognition in biological evolution 1
  • A theory about the growth of knowledge 2
  • A theory about the process of discovering new abstract entities 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

A theory about cognition in biological evolution

"Evolutionary epistemology" can refer to a branch of inclusive fitness in a given population should therefore grow more common over time, and a trait tending to prevent its carriers from passing on their genes should show up less and less frequently.

A theory about the growth of knowledge

"Evolutionary epistemology" can also refer to a theory that applies the concepts of biological evolution to the growth of human knowledge, and argues that units of knowledge themselves, particularly scientific theories, evolve according to selection. In this case, a theory—like the germ theory of disease—becomes more or less credible according to changes in the body of knowledge surrounding it.[source?]

One of the hallmarks of evolutionary epistemology is the notion that empirical testing alone does not justify the pragmatic value of scientific theories, but rather that social and methodological processes select those theories with the closest "fit" to a given problem. The mere fact that a theory has survived the most rigorous empirical tests available does not, in the calculus of probability, predict its ability to survive future testing. Karl Popper used Newtonian physics as an example of a body of theories so thoroughly confirmed by testing as to be considered unassailable, but which were nevertheless overturned by Einstein's bold insights into the nature of space-time. For the evolutionary epistemologist, all theories are true only provisionally, regardless of the degree of empirical testing they have survived.

A theory about the process of discovering new abstract entities

"Evolutionary epistemology" can also refer to the opposite of (onto)genetic epistemology, namely phylogenetic epistemology as the historical discovery and reification of abstractions that necessarily precedes the learning of such abstractions by individuals. Piaget dismissed this possibility, stating 'The fundamental hypothesis of genetic epistemology is that there is a parallelism between the progress made in the logical and rational organization of knowledge and the corresponding formative psychological processes. Well, now, if that is our hypothesis, what will be our field of study? Of course the most fruitful, most obvious field of study would be reconstituting human history: the history of human thinking in prehistoric man. Unfortunately, we are not very well informed about the psychology of Neanderthal man or about the psychology of Homo siniensis of Teilhard de Chardin. Since this field of biogenesis is not available to us, we shall do as biologists do and turn to ontogenesis. Nothing could be more accessible to study than the ontogenesis of these notions. There are children all around us.' (Piaget 1974) Piaget was mistaken in so quickly dismissing the study of phylogenetic epistemology, as there is much historical data available about the origins and evolution of the various notational systems that reify different kinds of abstract entity.

Popper is considered by many to have given evolutionary epistemology its first comprehensive treatment, though Donald T. Campbell coined the phrase in 1974 (Schilpp, 1974), and Piaget alluded to it in 1974 (Piaget, 1974, p. 13) and described the concept as one of five possible theories in The Origins of Intelligence in Children (1936).[1]

See also

References

  • Harms, William F., Information and Meaning in Evolutionary Processes (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology) , 2004
  • Kress, O. A new approach to cognitive development: ontogenesis and the process of initiation. Evolution and Cognition (1993) Vol 2(4): 319-332.
  • Piaget, J. Genetic Epistemology. 1974
  • Popper, Karl R. Objective Knowledge, An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford University Press, 1972.
  • Riedl, R. Biology of Knowledge: The Evolutionary Basis of Reason, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1984.
  • Schilpp, P. A., ed. The Philosophy of Karl R. Popper. LaSalle, IL. Open Court. 1974. See Campbell's essay, "Evolutionary Epistemology" on pp. 412–463.
  • Toulmin, Stephen Human Understanding: Volume 1: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts, 1972.
  1. ^ See p. 14ff

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.