Date: Aug. 25, 2003
From: "Phil Roberts, Jr." 
Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Kin Selection vs. Group Selection?

Herbert Gintis wrote:

 >> Herbert Gintis wrote:
 > I do not like being flamed, especially by someone who should
 > have more sense. You have two strikes. One more and you are on my
 > filtered-out list.

Sorry.  It wasn't until after I posted that realized that I had
inadvertently criticized the one feature of ev psych that I actually
admire, i.e., the use of formal models.  For this I humbly apologize.

I agree that game theory has proven to be a marvelous instrument for
investigating the predictive parameters of the theory of natural
selection.  Its just that most of the folks I have come to admire
(Price, Hamilton, Dawkins, Smith, Campbell, etc.) have always given
me the impression that, if anything, such investigations have
only served to deepen the mystery:

     Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a
     society in which individuals cooperate generously
     and unselfishly towards a common good, you can
     expect little help from biological nature.  Let
     us try to teach generosity and altruism, because
     we are born selfish.  Let us understand what our
     selfish genes are up to, because we may then at
     least have the chance to upset their designs,
     something that no other species has ever aspired
     to.  (Dawkins)  [emphasis mine]

     [Wilson and Sober's 'Unto Others'] should carry a
     health warning.  Read critically, it will stimulate
     thought about important questions.  Swallowed whole
     its effects would be disastrous (Maynard Smith).

 > You also don't know what you are talking about. I
 > have no metaphysics of materialism, and I have no problem with mental
 > constructs. Quite the opposite. I am working with neuroscientists to
 > validate such constructs in the context of experimental games.

Why would one need to consult with neuroscientists if one's primary
objective were to understand the mind (as opposed to the brain)?

 >> > It does not
 >> > reject introspection, but it requires that propositions derived from
 >> > introspection be validated in the laboratory or by other scientific
 >> > means.
 >> >

But you do sound very much like someone who thinks that things just
can't be top drawer until they're vindicated in a physical laboratory
of some sort or other, i.e., that science just can't be science until
it deals with features that are objectively observed (as opposed
to intersubjectively reproduced).

   Phenomena of consciousness are "private," in the sense indicated
   earlier, namely, that the only consciousness a man can experience
   directly is his own.  But, as was also indicated, the inferences
   a psychologist makes, on the basis of his introspection,
   concerning the nature and functions of consciousness, may be
   checked by his fellow workers, who also have recourse to
   introspection -- just as one scientist checks on the reported
   findings of another by repeating the other's experiment in his
   own laboratory.  If psychologists sometimes disagree about what
   they perceive, this is true of physical scientists also.  And
   the method of resolving such differences is, in principle, the
   same: to investigate further to compare data more carefully, to
   define terms more precisely, to explore other, possibly relevant
   facts, to check their conclusions in the light of the rest of
   their knowledge to search for contradictions or non sequiturs
   in the their reports. (Nathaniel Branden)

 > You talk big, but you don't know what you're talking about.
 > Cosmides and Tooby do not do experimental games...

Not so.  Ev Psych was spawned by the revolution created by the use
of formal models.  Hamilton, Dawkins, Smith, etc. are cited dozens and
dozens of times thoughout the Cosmides and Tooby book.  Perhaps they
don't take them to quite to the extreme you do, but I hardly think that
qualifies me as an ignoramous on such matters.


           Rehabilitating Introspection
 A Procedure for a First Person Psychical Science