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Natural Rights, Morality, and the Law  [PDF]
Drum Peter
Beijing Law Review (BLR) , 2011, DOI: 10.4236/blr.2011.21004
Abstract: It is argued that despite attempts to discount the importance of natural rights for morality, they are fundamental to it; therefore, so too are natural rights to the legitimacy of the law.
The Evolution of Contractual Morality
Alejandro Rosas
Ideas y Valores , 2011,
Abstract: Evolutionary explanations of altruism and human cooperation, first set forth by pioneers such as Darwin, Hamilton and Trivers, suggest that biology might be capable of offering a plausible scientific explanation of the core of human morality. According to this project, morality and human cooperation arise when resourcesare scarce; they cannot be exploited by isolated individuals; and individuals cannot maintain a long-term position of domination over others in order to advance their selfish ends. An important philosophical question that arises with respect to this project has to do with the concepts of de morality and moral motivation that itpresupposes. The evolutionary project has not been clear in this respect. The article argues in favor of two theses: 1) evolutionary explanations of cooperation suggest a contractual type of morality, but they are ambiguous regarding the motivations favored by natural selection, thus reflecting, without resolving it, a traditionaldisagreement between Hobbes’s moral contractualism (selfish motivations) and that of Kant (altruistic motivations); 2) in their current form, these explanations cannot resolve that disagreement, but a reflection on the role of the capacity to interpret the motivations and character of others in the evolution of morality could provide arguments in favor of Kantian contractualism.
Ideas y Valores , 2006,
Abstract: abstract: in this essay, i address recent attempts to account for morality as an adaptation due to natural selection. after a brief introduction, my exposition has four sections. i first explain the paradox of biological altruism. second, i explain the solution to the paradox in terms of group selection. this solution was presumably applied by darwin himself as he discussed human morality, and it has experienced a recent revival, though it remains suspicious to most biologists. in the third section i offer a socio-biological solution that opts for denying that morality can be explained by any form of natural selection. morality is opposed to human nature as designed by natural selection. in the fourth, i argue for an explanation in terms of individual selection. it does not oppose morality to nature, and does not need the workings of group selection; rather, it operates through the agents' psychological preferences in social interaction.
The Natural Law Theory of Morality and the Homosexuality Debate in an African Culture
L-A Bolatito
OGIRISI: a New Journal of African Studies , 2012,
Abstract: Same sex relationship has recently been criticized by many not only on grounds of being immoral but also as a practice that erodes certain values attached to marriage and procreation in some African cultures. This paper examines the immorality or otherwise of homosexuality as an act. It argues that homosexual behaviour is degrading and damaging as an act because it devalues the institution of marriage and its related values in the Yoruba culture. The paper underscores the fact that a typical Yoruba would make allusions to either Christian or Islamic injunctions to justify the moral unacceptability of homosexuality as an act. It employs Aquinas natural law theory of morality to further argue that homosexual act is unnatural hence it goes against what reason dictates. The paper also argues that we cannot completely rule out the possibility that homosexual acts are consequences of certain predisposing biological factors over which actors have no control and if this is the case, then they cannot act otherwise. In the light of this, the paper argued for both nature and nurture as predisposing factors of homosexual behavior. It concludes by stressing that in spite of some biological arguments in favour of homosexual act, such act threatens the viability of the Yoruba community where special value is placed on the institution of marriage and procreation.
Extending cosmological natural selection  [PDF]
Gordon McCabe
Physics , 2006,
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to propose an extension to Lee Smolin's hypothesis that our own universe belongs to a population of universes evolving by natural selection. Smolin's hypothesis explains why the parameters of physics possess the values we observe them to possess, but depends upon the contingent fact that the universe is a quantum relativistic universe. It is proposed that the prior existence of a quantum relativistic universe can itself be explained by postulating that a process of cosmogenic drift evolves universes towards stable ('rigid') mathematical structures.
The inductive theory of natural selection  [PDF]
Steven A. Frank
Computer Science , 2014,
Abstract: The theory of natural selection has two forms. Deductive theory describes how populations change over time. One starts with an initial population and some rules for change. From those assumptions, one calculates the future state of the population. Deductive theory predicts how populations adapt to environmental challenge. Inductive theory describes the causes of change in populations. One starts with a given amount of change. One then assigns different parts of the total change to particular causes. Inductive theory analyzes alternative causal models for how populations have adapted to environmental challenge. This chapter emphasizes the inductive analysis of cause.
Natural selection maximizes Fisher information  [PDF]
Steven A. Frank
Quantitative Biology , 2009, DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01647.x
Abstract: In biology, information flows from the environment to the genome by the process of natural selection. But it has not been clear precisely what sort of information metric properly describes natural selection. Here, I show that Fisher information arises as the intrinsic metric of natural selection and evolutionary dynamics. Maximizing the amount of Fisher information about the environment captured by the population leads to Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, the most profound statement about how natural selection influences evolutionary dynamics. I also show a relation between Fisher information and Shannon information (entropy) that may help to unify the correspondence between information and dynamics. Finally, I discuss possible connections between the fundamental role of Fisher information in statistics, biology, and other fields of science.
On the claimed “circularity” of the theory of natural selection  [PDF]
Petter Portin
Open Journal of Genetics (OJGen) , 2012, DOI: 10.4236/ojgen.2012.22012
Abstract: First, the numerous claims that the theory of natural selection would be a tautology, just empty circular reasoning, are shown to be erroneous, and that they follow from an essentialistic and deterministic way of thinking, which is not consistent with the dynamic theory of evolution. Secondly, it is proposed that a careful analysis applying Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection of the seemingly tautologous sentence in question: “those who reproduce most, reproduce most” shows that in actual fact it is a predictive statement. Consequently, the analysis presented reduces the essence of the theory of natural selection to that one single statement.
Natural Selection Promotes Antigenic Evolvability  [PDF]
Christopher J. Graves,Vera I. D. Ros,Brian Stevenson,Paul D. Sniegowski,Dustin Brisson
PLOS Pathogens , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003766
Abstract: The hypothesis that evolvability - the capacity to evolve by natural selection - is itself the object of natural selection is highly intriguing but remains controversial due in large part to a paucity of direct experimental evidence. The antigenic variation mechanisms of microbial pathogens provide an experimentally tractable system to test whether natural selection has favored mechanisms that increase evolvability. Many antigenic variation systems consist of paralogous unexpressed ‘cassettes’ that recombine into an expression site to rapidly alter the expressed protein. Importantly, the magnitude of antigenic change is a function of the genetic diversity among the unexpressed cassettes. Thus, evidence that selection favors among-cassette diversity is direct evidence that natural selection promotes antigenic evolvability. We used the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, as a model to test the prediction that natural selection favors amino acid diversity among unexpressed vls cassettes and thereby promotes evolvability in a primary surface antigen, VlsE. The hypothesis that diversity among vls cassettes is favored by natural selection was supported in each B. burgdorferi strain analyzed using both classical (dN/dS ratios) and Bayesian population genetic analyses of genetic sequence data. This hypothesis was also supported by the conservation of highly mutable tandem-repeat structures across B. burgdorferi strains despite a near complete absence of sequence conservation. Diversification among vls cassettes due to natural selection and mutable repeat structures promotes long-term antigenic evolvability of VlsE. These findings provide a direct demonstration that molecular mechanisms that enhance evolvability of surface antigens are an evolutionary adaptation. The molecular evolutionary processes identified here can serve as a model for the evolution of antigenic evolvability in many pathogens which utilize similar strategies to establish chronic infections.
Natural selection. IV. The Price equation  [PDF]
Steven A. Frank
Quantitative Biology , 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02498.x
Abstract: The Price equation partitions total evolutionary change into two components. The first component provides an abstract expression of natural selection. The second component subsumes all other evolutionary processes, including changes during transmission. The natural selection component is often used in applications. Those applications attract widespread interest for their simplicity of expression and ease of interpretation. Those same applications attract widespread criticism by dropping the second component of evolutionary change and by leaving unspecified the detailed assumptions needed for a complete study of dynamics. Controversies over approximation and dynamics have nothing to do with the Price equation itself, which is simply a mathematical equivalence relation for total evolutionary change expressed in an alternative form. Disagreements about approach have to do with the tension between the relative valuation of abstract versus concrete analyses. The Price equation's greatest value has been on the abstract side, particularly the invariance relations that illuminate the understanding of natural selection. Those abstract insights lay the foundation for applications in terms of kin selection, information theory interpretations of natural selection, and partitions of causes by path analysis. I discuss recent critiques of the Price equation by Nowak and van Veelen.
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