Re: The selfish gene meme

From: John Wilkins (
Date: Thu Dec 06 2001 - 22:57:30 GMT

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    Subject: Re: The selfish gene meme
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    On Thursday, December 6, 2001, at 11:19 PM, Price, Ilfryn wrote:

    > ...

    > Interestingly, your use of the term "replication space"
    >> suggests that you are
    >> referring to something that is defined with sufficient
    >> mathematical precision
    >> to call for a coordinate system. Some readers will want to
    >> know in exact
    >> quantitative terms how that space is defined, which in turn
    >> may cause them to
    >> want to know in more exact terms how the word "meme" is defined.
    > I can appreciate how it would suggest that precision to a physicist but
    > I used it as no more than metaphor. C.f Dennet's space in the
    > Libraries of Mendel and Babel.
    I think semantic spaces are much more than metaphors, but that the
    metrics are not absolute. Nevertheless, they can be measured
    contextually. This is done, often not well, in the social sciences all
    the time (eg, in "attitudinal surveys"). There was an old book entitled
    _The Measurement of Meaning_ back int he 50s on the subject. I reference
    it in

    Wilkins, J. S. (1998). “The evolutionary structure of scientific
    theories.” Biology and Philosophy 13(4): 479–504.

    along with a discussion of space metaphors.

    John S Wilkins
    PhD Student - jointly between
    History and Philosophy of Science, and Botany
    Topic: Species concepts

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