Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Darwin Got Wrong

"Jerry Fodor now hopes to do something similar to Darwinism in biology. Fodor has been making sceptical remarks about Darwinian ideas for decades. Three years ago he wrote a direct attack on Darwinian evolutionary theory in the LRB,* and he has now published What Darwin Got Wrong, along with Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini believe that they can replicate Chomsky’s demolition job on Skinner because ‘Skinner’s account of learning and Darwin’s account of evolution are identical in all but name.’ As we shall see, ‘identical’ is quite a stretch, but there is a real analogy. First, both theories draw on an externalist or ‘outside-in’ pattern of explanation, in which the structure or behaviour of living things is seen as a consequence of their environments. Second, both rely on a process that can be described loosely as ‘trial and error’. New variations are produced in a spontaneous and unintelligent way, and a few successful variants are kept while others are discarded. This resemblance between the theories was recognised by Skinner himself, who saw Darwinism and behaviourism as dovetailing together. And Chomsky, the great critic of behaviourism, shows no enthusiasm for mainstream evolutionary theory, especially when applied to psychological traits." more


Echelon 133 said...

See... I told you I was right.

Gunnar Berg said...

No comment.

Justine Valinotti said...

I'm about to say something that would probably get me pilloried and worse in some circles, including the ones that include many of my colleagues. Here goes: Darwin's theory is just that--a THEORY. There is ultimately no way to prove it, any more than there is any way to prove behaviorism, the Big Bang theory or the existence the Judeo-Christian (or any other) God. Yet all except the existence of God are treated as if they're fact, at least by most so-called intellectuals. And, of course, there are plenty of people--including some who are shaping the law and public policy in this country--who believe the existence of their deity is an incontrovertible fact, and that every word of the Bible came directly from His mouth.