Outline of Kaplan event presentation

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					Outline of Kaplan event presentation
S. White

Wayang Golek
  - (Describe picture)
  - Philosophy of science  a way to think clearly about science
        o A way to illuminate bias in mine and others hypotheses and interpretations
  - This is when I met John Kaplan
        o Philosophy of Bio class; worked on Ch.1 (the force metaphor)
        o Independent study for my investigation into epistemology, ―how we know
            what we know‖
        o Philosophy of science course from Prof. Clough
  - When you read this book, you notice it’s about metaphors
        o The point is to “put the essence of philosophical inquiry—the ability to
            conduct rigorous analyses of the meaning of concepts as they relate to one
            another, and how they are applied—at the service of scientists (and
            society at large) in order to help them cut through the conceptual fog and
            get to questions that are actually answerable on empirical grounds” (P.
            9).
        o Got interested in how metaphors work in science

Metaphors in evolution and ecology
  - Some metaphors: Tree of Life, Selfish Gene, Gaia Hypothesis, The Safecracker,
     Red Queen
  - 3 Uses for the metaphor
         1) Understanding
                  From known to unknown (Tree of Life)
                  ―Our thought extends only as far as our capacity to express it‖
                     (John Banville 1988)
         2) Idea generation
                  Greek: ―Carriers from one place to another‖ (adaptive landscapes)
                  Tension theory (MacCormac 1976)
                  Charles Sanders Pierce: abduction (vs. deduction and induction)
         3) Prescribing action
                  Carter’s ―Moral Equivalent of War‖ on energy crisis  fossil fuels
                     (Lakoff and Johnson 1980)
                          War on Terror?
                  In science: describes a research program (will get to later)
  - Problems with metaphor
         o Objection to religious language (logical positivists)  formal logic
             (MacCormac)
         o Lazy thinking? Quoting M&K: “assumptions and metaphors can become
             internalized habits of thought to which we no longer pay conscious
             attention” (P. 10).
         o When arguments weak, metaphor distractions from faults in logic
             (MacCormac)
           o Expression of emotion, vs. cognition (acceptable in poetry and literature)
             (MacCormac)
           o ―Rich‖ metaphors invite many meanings (Bergmann 1982), so it follows
             the more experiences we have in common, the more we will relay the
             meaning. A problem for cultural differences, and generations?
           o K.D. Moore’s 2 premises: (1) the logic transfers from what we know to
             what we don’t know (most commonly attacked), and (2) we know the
             original metaphor

Force metaphor
   - Viewing natural selection as a force, like the sums of vectors (Sober 1984)
   - Fits well with Wright’s landscape metaphor, seems like a benign term
   - Once distinction is made between formal/informal fitness and selections, becomes
      obvious that individual popn’s change not due to selective ―forces‖ in the
      metaphorical sense acting on them, but by actual physical processes acting on
      individual organisms
   - Implications for making a distinction among natural selection and drift
   - Implications for evidence for natural selection
   - One practical challenge that becomes clear if you accept the informal/formal
      distinction, is that you need a lot more populations in the wild to work with in
      order to answer questions about formal or predictive fitness, and often those
      populations don’t exist (too few, too different)

Spandrels
   - To lead us away from adaptionist thinking, Gould and Lewontin gave us the
      spandrels of metaphor (brief description of)

Fish skull
   - Led to focus on alternatives to adaptation, e.g.
           o Genetic drift
           o Features of trait associated with another trait
           o Accidental by-products of other adaptations
           o Secondary uses – exaptations
   - P&K argue that spandrels did its job, and its time to move on, but the alluring
       metaphor has kept thinking in place
   - Again, once we distinguish formal/informal selection, the problem of constraining
       formal selection (a statistical property) go away
   - Metaphor should serve as a caveat, but we’re still interested in how traits arose;
       we just need to be careful

Landscape
   - Wright proposed because math was too complicated
   - Selective forces (a metaphor) pushing individuals/populations around on
      adaptive/fitness landscapes
   - Created illusion of a problem that didn’t exist: how do species cross valleys of
      low fitness
   -   A more apt metaphor
           o Holey landcapes
           o Rubbery landscapes
                    Extra-dimensional bypass
           (At this point it’s not a metaphor, but a 3-D mathematical equation!)
           o P&K argue that we probably could have developed a theory of adaptive
               evolution and speciation without using the landcape metaphor
                    Not sure I agree here
                    Do we want just the mathematicians working on the problem?
Wayang Golek
Describe figure

SFJD data
   - Speaking of statistical shadow (chance to show my own data!)
   - Alternative mechanisms:
              o Biotic interactions
              o Physiological tolerances
   - Hiram Li: You can’t infer what happened by reading only the last paragraph of a
      detective novel
   - The question is based on a larger, more pervasive metaphor…

Balance of nature
   - Is nature a highly regulated, balanced equilibrium?
   - Or is nature highly dynamic, stochastic, populations independent?
   - As in the Spandrels metaphor, the pendulum swung far in the other direction—we
      got away from ―the balance of nature‖ and in practice, treat populations as
      isolated species on the landscape (e.g., Endangered Species Act)
   - Interactiveness of communities  implications for ―Red Queen‖ metaphor
   - P&K: Biologists as detectives, not statisticians (e.g., Napoleon)
   - Li: You can’t infer what happened by reading only the last paragraph of a
      detective novel

       -   We should be acting like detectives, not statisticians
             o Detective metaphor would mean that I could wear a cool hat and a
                 smoke a pipe at work
             o It would also mean that could pursue questions in more interesting and
                 appropriate ways than making reductionist arguments about big
                 patterns, and that to me sounds like an interesting job.

				
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posted:10/29/2008
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