Evolutionary Epistemology

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Brendan Graham Dempsey:

"Universal Darwinism entails the application of Darwinian-like evolutionary mechanisms beyond biological contexts. It generalizes from the basic “descent with modification” a broader pattern of “variation and selective retention” that can be applied in any number of domains. “Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest,’” writes Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, “is really a special case of a more general law of survival of the stable.”

Universal Bayesianism refers to a process by which a given probability space (say, of an environment) is explored by countless iterations of slightly modified trials in order to yield the optimal solution to a design challenge. Each slightly modified approach yields the chance of an improved solution. Over numerous iterations, the trials converge upon the optimal result.

Evolutionary epistemology is a framing of mechanisms like those above in terms of learning and knowledge accumulation. Everything from dissipative structures to the advance of technology and culture can be understood as adaptive learning. As Azarian puts it, “A functional equivalence between the mechanisms driving evolution, learning, and science suggests that adaptation and scientific knowledge are actually the same thing” (p. 94)."