Phil/Psych 446

Seminar in Cognitive Science

Week 5: Evolution

Explanations of Human Characteristics:

1. Adaptation: a trait has evolved because of natural selection.

2. Side effect: a trait is the incidental result of adaptive traits.

3. Random: a trait is the result of random mutation and genetic drift.

4. Culture: a trait occurs and is transmitted in society.

5. Design: a trait was designed by a deity.

Positions on Evolution

1. Creationism, intelligent design

2. Hard-core Darwinian: Dawkins, Dennett

3. Soft-core Darwinian: Gould, Sober

Discussion questions

1. What are examples of human characteristics best explained as adaptations, side effects, random, or cultural artifacts?

2. Did consciousness evolve? Is it adaptive?

3. How is consciousness socially useful?

4. What are the differences between genes and memes?

5. What animals have core consciousness?

6. What animals have self consciousness?

7. How crucial is language for consciousness?

Phil/Psych 446

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Oct. 9, 2007