Re: Defining the word "replicator" (was Re: Silent memes)

Date: Mon 04 Aug 2003 - 17:28:40 GMT

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    In a message dated 8/4/2003 2:57:28 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:

    > --- wrote: > In a message dated
    > 8/1/2003 4:02:47 AM Central
    > > terms of "Longevity, Fecundity, Fidelity." I take
    > > this to
    > > be a tenet of evolutionary theory (subject to
    > > empirical
    > > testing and re-testing, logical analysis, etc.)
    > > rather than
    > > another definition per se.
    > No, they are part of the definition. For instance,
    > your Y-chromosome is a replicator, but none of your
    > autosomes are. By definition. Why? Because the
    > autosomes don't satisfy the Longevity criterion
    > (because of recombination). Simple as that.
    > Dawkins' notion of the replicator is built on
    > Williams' notion of the 'evolutionary gene'. The
    > definitions were already clear enough by the mid-60s.

    What I want is to be able to quote a definition that has been explicitly identified by Dawkins as being a definition. His sentence on p. 83 of The Extended Phenotype that "I define a _replicator_ as anything in the universe of which copies are made" does qualify.

    The passage on p. 84 about longevity, fecundity, and fidelity is only identified as a "slogan," specifically, "a slogan reminiscent of the French Revolution."

    This is not to say that it is impossible for Dawkins to
    *explicitly* define "replicator" or "successful replicator" with reference to longevity, fecundity, and fidelity. For instance, he could define parameters of longevity, fecundity, and fidelity and then define a "replicator" or a
    "successful replicator" as having, by definition, values of those parameters that satisfy some mathematical condition in the past, present, or future. If you know of such a definition explicitly identified as such, do please quote it for us, along with a citation of the source and page number. Or if you know of any other place where Dawkins explicitly defines "replicator" with reference to longevity, fecundity, and fidelity, and clearly identifying the definition as being a definition, do please quote that definition verbatim in its entirety, again with source and page numbers.

    I grant that Dawkins has made many statements *about*
    "replicators," often using the term as an abbreviation for
    "genetic replicators." Some of these statements, for instance, are the various conclusions Dawkins has drawn about replicators. Other statements are elaborations of evolutionary replicator theory, and so forth. But I don't want to quote a statement made *about* replicators as being a definition of the term. Hence, I am looking for definitions that are explicitly identified as being definitions.

    --Aaron Lynch

    Thought Contagion Science Page:

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