Information and Meaning in Evolutionary Processes

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This book is intended to help transform epistemology - the traditional study of knowledge - into a rigorous discipline by removing conceptual roadblocks and developing formal tools required for a fully naturalized epistemology. The evolutionary approach which Harms favours begins with the common observation that if our senses and reasoning were not reliable, then natural selection would have eliminated them long ago. The challenge for some time has been how to transform these informal musings about evolutionary epistemology into a rigorous theoretical discipline capable of complementing current scientific studies of the evolution of cognition with a philosophically defensible account of meaning and justification. – Contents : – Acknowledgements; – Introduction. – Part I. Generalizing Evolutionary Theory: – 1. Replicator theories; – 2. Ontologies of evolution and cultural transmission; – Part II. Modeling Information Flow in Evolutionary Processes: – 3. Population dynamics; – 4. Information theory; – 5. Selection as an information-transfer process; – 6. Multilevel information transfer; – 7. Information in internal states. – Part III. Meaning Conventions and Normativity: – 8. Primitive content; – 9. Is and ought. – Epilogue: Paley's Watch and other stories; – Notes; – Appendix: proof of information gain under frequency-independent discrete replicator dynamics for population of n types; – Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-264) and index.