Re: Evolution, "adaptation", and what's currently adaptive

Len Piotrowski (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 22:02:04 GMT

In article <50kpj4$> (Bryant) writes:


>To quote you: Duhhh.

Ouch! Okay already. I'm sorry that Duhhhing Firl rubbed you the wrong way!

> I have conceded the point. You were right about my
>specific speculations. Would you perhaps be willing to move on to other
>issues, now?

Yes but, there are these questions below.


>Nothing. The original points were taken out of context and put together
>in a way that miscommunicated my original points.

Sorry that you feel I misrepresented you. I don't think I took anything out of
context, and tried not to.

>As I have pointed out, you seem to think that the adaptationist who
>asserts that selection is evolution's creative force therefore sees all
>as optimally adaptive.

As I've tried to make clear before, I don't. The problem I had was something
else, which is now of no further relevance.

>>>Of course. How many times must I say I'm not Dr. Pangloss before you'll
>>>believe me?!
>>As far as I am aware, this is the first time you've admitted to possible
>>non-adaptationist origins for "sugar craving" and "jealousy," at least in this
>>thread. Did I miss something along the way?

>I asked several times for you to suggest some alternatives.

I've suggested a model for self-reorganization of behavior (perhaps in another
thread). My real difficulty with your paradigm is considering meaningful
behavior as an adaptive trait. If "sugar craving" and "jealousy" are aspects
of human social context and meaningful interaction, how are they, as well as
other human actions, to be construed as arising from natural happenstance
and adaptive causes?

>>>I think I just communicated poorly. And perhaps misunderstood your point.
>>>I think that the adaptationist program is sensible; look for a functional
>>>"purpose" for a trait before dismissing it as the result of non-selective
>>>forces of evolution. It's easier, usually, to test the predictions
>>>derived from adaptationist hypotheses than from hypotheses which posit
>>>that a trait has no functional significance.
>>This is still incongruous given your critique of Gould & Lewontin.


Because of the conundrum presented by the functional methodology.

>>poor communication, I would submit that the method you choose to "look for a
>>functional "purpose" for a trait" creates only the illusion of an explanation
>>because it posits a priori a need that is outside the system of analysis and
>>patently unclassifiable as a "trait."

>Why? Are you tossing Mendelian genetics out the window, here?

I'm not, at least I don't think I am. I'm wondering out loud at how
Mendelian genetics necessarily fits the functionalist paradigm, that's all.