Friday, 4 March 2016

Addy Pross vs universal Darwinism

I just noticed that Addy Pross offered a criticism of universal Darwinism in 2011:

we routinely attempt to explain psychological phenomena in biological terms, biological phenomena in physical and chemical terms, chemical phenomena in physical terms, and so on, not the other way around. The observation of Darwinian-like behavior at the chemical level is highly significant, not because it suggests that molecules behave in a biological fashion, but because it opens up the possibility of explaining biological behavior in chemical terms

Addy goes on to say:

As mentioned above, the temptation to interpret the behavior of molecular replicators in biological terms - fitness, natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc., should be firmly resisted. Chemical phenomena are more usefully explained in chemical terms

My response would be that this line of argument is based on a misidentificaton of where evolutionary theory lies in the scientific pecking order. It is true that evolutionary theory is used in biology - but it is more properly identified with statistics - in particular with statistical mechanics. This puts it above physics - along with systems theory, chaos theory, information theory, statistical thermodynamics and other theories that transcend physical law.

Addy's proposal that we should start with chemistry is a complete non-starter - since any chemical explanation would rather obviously fail to explain how Darwinism applies to physics and computer science.

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