Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 08:40:01 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <D.Gatherer@organon.nhe.akzonobel.nl>
Subject: Memetics not tautological or circular
To: "'memetics@mmu.ac.uk'" <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
Aaron:
However, when expressed in terms of mathematics and measurable
propagation parameters, (Lynch, 1998) both memetic evolution theory and
genetic evolution theory are not circular. Neither are they tautological.
In the technical language of my 1998 JoM-EMIT papaer, one says that (for
instance) N1 goes from one value to another value over a given time
interval because propagation parameters R1, R2, K11, K12, K22, K21,
gamma12, beta12, etc. remained within such and such intervals (according to
empirical measurement) over the specified time interval.
Derek:
If the above is mathematically true, then it is a tautology because, as
Wittgenstein among others has pointed out, all mathematical truths are
tautologies (ie. they are necessarily true).
The question is not whether the mathematical theory is tautologous or not
(because it's bound to be tautologous if you've done the equations
correctly), but whether or not the theoretical model fits with empirical
reality (ie. does the theory have any predictive power)
As far as Coyne's other statement goes: "The spread of genes through natural
selection is not tautological because one can predict their fate through
their known effects on replication and the reproduction of their carriers."
This may well be true for genetics, but try the memetic equivalent.....
"The spread of memes through natural selection is not tautological because
one can predict their fate through their known effects on replication and
the reproduction of their carriers."
That is only true if one takes behaviours to be memes, because we can
predict the effects of behaviour on survival and reproduction. We cannot
predict the effects of any hypothesised internal mental entity because we
know nothing about such entitites.
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