Should humans take conscious and deliberate charge of evolution?
#13
(19-Jul-2010, 04:06 PM)future.evolution Wrote: These arguments are developed in greater detail in The Evolutionary Manifesto.

Dr. Stewart,

I have read the manifesto from start to finish, and am still pondering about some of its implications. But in general I definitely see eye to eye with your ideas. To be honest with you, my main argument against such applications of evolutionary principles is that most such attempts in the past have committed the naturalistic fallacy. Many folks still do. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that the naturalistic fallacy is the single greatest reason why there is so much misunderstanding and lack of agreement in politics, culture and society at large. But section 4 of the "Evolutionary Manifesto" cleared this up. I can see that you are not making the naturalistic fallacy.

This section is what cleared it up:

Quote:However, rationalists have also attacked all past attempts to develop worldviews that rely only on scientific knowledge to propose what we should do with our lives. They have pointed out that such worldviews usually commit the naturalistic fallacy. This fallacy argues that it is invalid to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. In other words, it is invalid to argue that humans ought to do something solely on the basis of facts about the way the world is.

In particular, the naturalistic fallacy has often been used against attempts to use evolutionary theories to suggest what we should do with our lives. The fallacy has been used to argue that just because evolution might have favored aggressive competition (or cooperation), it does not follow that humans ought to follow suit in their lives. The fact that evolution appears to favor something doesn’t mean humans ought to.

But the evolutionary worldview does not suffer from this deficiency. It derives its ‘oughts’ from other ‘oughts’ in combination with relevant facts, not solely from facts. There is no logical fallacy involved in deriving ‘oughts’ from other ‘oughts’. For example, if an individual holds a particular value it is perfectly rational to use the value to derive new values that are consistent with it. Satisfaction of the new values will lead to the satisfaction of the original value.

The use of relevant factual information in this derivation of new values is also perfectly legitimate. Particular facts might be highly relevant to identifying the circumstances in which pursuit of the new value is consistent with pursuit of the original value.

Intentional evolutionaries do not fall into the naturalistic fallacy—they embrace evolutionary goals because the goals are consistent with their most fundamental values. As we shall see in detail below, they experience this consistency when they appraise the evolutionary worldview with their emotional, intuitive and intellectual faculties, working together.


I am in complete agreement with the ideas contained here. Unfortunately, people like Sam Harris seem intent on proposing theories that are similarly endorsing science, but go beyond that by postulating that the naturalistic fallacy simply does not apply. I believe that Harris is going for political points with his arguments, because it seems inconceivable that someone of his intellect (with a degree in philosophy to boot) actually believes what he's saying. Nevertheless, I disagree with his view, and would rather see political movements like yours take on more momentum, because yours is a position based on understanding, stated without ignoring the importance of our inherently subjective values.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#14
(24-Aug-2010, 12:57 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(19-Jul-2010, 04:06 PM)future.evolution Wrote: These arguments are developed in greater detail in The Evolutionary Manifesto.

Dr. Stewart,

I have read the manifesto from start to finish, and am still pondering about some of its implications. But in general I definitely see eye to eye with your ideas. To be honest with you, my main argument against such applications of evolutionary principles is that most such attempts in the past have committed the naturalistic fallacy. Many folks still do. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that the naturalistic fallacy is the single greatest reason why there is so much misunderstanding and lack of agreement in politics, culture and society at large. But section 4 of the "Evolutionary Manifesto" cleared this up. I can see that you are not making the naturalistic fallacy.

This section is what cleared it up:

Quote:However, rationalists have also attacked all past attempts to develop worldviews that rely only on scientific knowledge to propose what we should do with our lives. They have pointed out that such worldviews usually commit the naturalistic fallacy. This fallacy argues that it is invalid to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. In other words, it is invalid to argue that humans ought to do something solely on the basis of facts about the way the world is.

In particular, the naturalistic fallacy has often been used against attempts to use evolutionary theories to suggest what we should do with our lives. The fallacy has been used to argue that just because evolution might have favored aggressive competition (or cooperation), it does not follow that humans ought to follow suit in their lives. The fact that evolution appears to favor something doesn’t mean humans ought to.

But the evolutionary worldview does not suffer from this deficiency. It derives its ‘oughts’ from other ‘oughts’ in combination with relevant facts, not solely from facts. There is no logical fallacy involved in deriving ‘oughts’ from other ‘oughts’. For example, if an individual holds a particular value it is perfectly rational to use the value to derive new values that are consistent with it. Satisfaction of the new values will lead to the satisfaction of the original value.

The use of relevant factual information in this derivation of new values is also perfectly legitimate. Particular facts might be highly relevant to identifying the circumstances in which pursuit of the new value is consistent with pursuit of the original value.

Intentional evolutionaries do not fall into the naturalistic fallacy—they embrace evolutionary goals because the goals are consistent with their most fundamental values. As we shall see in detail below, they experience this consistency when they appraise the evolutionary worldview with their emotional, intuitive and intellectual faculties, working together.


I am in complete agreement with the ideas contained here. Unfortunately, people like Sam Harris seem intent on proposing theories that are similarly endorsing science, but go beyond that by postulating that the naturalistic fallacy simply does not apply. I believe that Harris is going for political points with his arguments, because it seems inconceivable that someone of his intellect (with a degree in philosophy to boot) actually believes what he's saying. Nevertheless, I disagree with his view, and would rather see political movements like yours take on more momentum, because yours is a position based on understanding, stated without ignoring the importance of our inherently subjective values.

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#15
NO. Simply too much smell of the age old problem of EUGENICS here. NEVER AGAIN.
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#16
First thing is that evolution is not directional. And there is no way one can take control of evolution of life on earth. What we have done with modern technology is to reduce (not eliminate) the selection pressure (life expectancy has increased) With technology we may live safely in our cocoons but what we actually are doing in is reducing our innate fitness by increasing the protective technologies which of course has enabled us to be so successful on earth. See for example the corn. We have modified it so much that even though it is planted in very large scale, it can't grow in wild. It doesn't have that fitness anymore. We 'might 'be causing global warming and have drawn some species to extinction but destroying all life or determining the course of evolution of species is unlikely.

Although we can engineer some organisms but making them survive beyond lab is something which we can't control. There is a simple phenomena with which evolution occurs. Survive and reproduce. Those who are able to survive and reproduce remain alive. Those who reproduce more are numerous and others a less numerous. Whatever disaster (except if we don't blow up the whole planet) human actions may cause, life in some form will adapt to it even though many species might get extinct.
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