Rex Allen wrote:
On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
<stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time.


How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?

Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
 Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
about what we observe.

For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
the universe today.

In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
with "evolution".

There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
the only way that they can.

When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
water a bit.

Right?  Or wrong?
Evolution assumes randomness, whether epistemic or inherent it serves to explain. You invoke physical determinism and causal laws - but you can look at those too as "merely descriptions". Yet evolution, like physical laws, have predictive value. They go beyond just describing what has already been seen. So what do you consider a 'real' explanation?

Brent
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