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Is Evolution Still Just A "theory"?

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1. It is not the animals which are "missing", it is their fossils. The fossil record has many gaps in it for a number of reasons, including: some organisms' remains do not fossilize well (too soft or wrong chemistry); they may have been destroyed (by predators or scavengers or bacteria) or dispersed (so that no reconstruction can be done); the stratum in which the fossils were deposited may have been eroded away or subducted into the mantle or melted or otherwise destroyed; the stratum may be buried where we cannot find it; the fossils may not have yet been recognized for what they are; or the intermediate forms may have evolved so rapidly that they left too few remains to be discovered.
Thanks for the tip. It sounds reasonable. It also at the same time could also be construed as a convenient excuse for the missing fossil. I will keep an open mind on this till more information comes my way along life. I appreciate the pointer :D

I see there are three broad fields of (1) Paleobiology (2) Evolution (3) Geology under this link http://www.fossilmuseum.net/paleontology.htm a subset of your link. I happen to have a cousin who is a geologist and shall take the chance to ask him too the three questions. I will also take time to slowly browse through the information in your link. Thanks for the pointer. Any time, I can return this favor, I shall, if I can :santa:

(Fixed quoatation blocks - softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd

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(I am not an expert, but this is my understanding.)

1. It is not the animals which are "missing", it is their fossils. The fossil record has many gaps in it for a number of reasons, including: some organisms' remains do not fossilize well (too soft or wrong chemistry); they may have been destroyed (by predators or scavengers or bacteria) or dispersed (so that no reconstruction can be done); the stratum in which the fossils were deposited may have been eroded away or subducted into the mantle or melted or otherwise destroyed; the stratum may be buried where we cannot find it; the fossils may not have yet been recognized for what they are; or the intermediate forms may have evolved so rapidly that they left too few remains to be discovered.

2. Actually there are many transitional forms in the fossils. It is just not a complete continuum. The existence of the many which do exist is evidence of evolution. But it is also true that we can watch evolution taking place around us in our documented history. Many species, like the Dodo bird, have gone extinct. Species have invaded new habitats and begun to diversify into new forms. We also have evidence from DNA and other biological chemicals that all known species are related to each other to varying degrees, i.e. they all have a common ancestor.

3. NO! See:

http://www.fossilmuseum.net

I have been thinking of how answers (1) and (2) sit above with your answer (3). It sits between two stools, and falls slightly outside (3) and touching maybe 45%-55% of (3).

Consider that, your admission that there are SOME missing transitional fossils supports the contention that there are missing transitional fossils as well as that there are many transitional fossils. It could then follow that, your admission that there are some missing transitional fossils, could have been the admission or statement of palentologists.

Next then is the question of how palentologists said it, and who quotes it and places it on the internet. I do recall reading many of such posts or statements referred to or atrributed to have been said by palentologists.

Thus, to state unequivocally that palentologists do not really say that there are NO transitional fossils, is not fully accurate as it is appears to be not fully accurate too to say that there are NO transitional fossils as if there are really none AT ALL. According to your advice , there are many transitional fossils but some are missing for various reasons.

Another question then would be, what are the present transitional fossils found and what percentage is the missing transitional fossils. Percentages aside is the determination of the value of the phase of the transition. Is it unimportant transitional fossils that are missing? Or is it important transitional fossils that are missing?

These are some questions that come to my mind from the slight contradiction between answer (1) (2) with (3) :D:santa:B)

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Hello, I've been catching up on this thread, so forgive me if my answers are to older posts...

I think in answer to your theory vs. law question, I think scientists were more eager to label things as law centuries ago. Which is why there is Newton's Law of Gravitation. Yet it was replaced by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. If Newton's law of gravitation was really as rock solid as the label "law" implies, it could never be replaced by anything.

As for the gas law, PV=nRT, that is an aproximation which assumes an ideal gas. So it is only a law in conditions that are impossible to achieve.

Theory is the proper term for any hypothesis that has been put through the scientific method. A theory can always be put to more tests.

Also, in biology, we have what is called the cell theory, which states that all cells come from other cells, and that all organisms are composed of cells, and that cells are the fundamental unit of life. I have no idea why it is still called a *theory*, since it is obvious that no one will ever be able to disprove this *fact*.
That's not quite true is it? Wasn't there a first cell on earth that came from something that wasn't quite a cell?

No one has answered my question re: Einstein's theory of relativity. Doesn't this equation predict mass and energy with absolute certainty? If so, why is it still considered a theory? When has it ever been invalidated? It is has not, correct? It is because it does not assume that TIME is constant? Might this be why Einstein's theory is not considered a law? Because time changes with velocity?

Einstein's Special Relativity theory predicts mass and energy perfectly - within the accuracy of the experiments. And experiments have been extremely accurate, though not perfectly accurate. Physcists continue to experiment on special relativity with higher and higher accuracy, because if it's off by any amount, no matter how small, it's back to the drawing board.

Plus there's the other theory - quantum mechanics, that says that the universe is NOT deterministic. It's also a very successful theory. So you have two theories, one deterministic, and the other is not, both successful. It's very hard to construct experiments to see if relativity or quantum mechanics blinks first. But since they are in conflict, one or both must be merely a very good approximation.

As for time in special relativity, it is constant. It only looks different depending on the velocity of the observer. But it's all fully tracked with special relativity, and verified to the accuracy of all experiments to date. In general relativity (where matter can curve spacetime) then time is not constant, but that is also verified to extremely high accuracy.

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For instance, take the concept "attracts". What does that mean? Does the Law of Gravity say that objects act as if they were attracted, or does it say that they do attract each other?

Under Newton's "law" of gravity, masses attract eachother. Under Einstein's theory of general relativity, objects appear to attract eachother. In general relativity, matter tells spacetime how to curve, and spacetime tells matter how to move. From the point of view of a rock thrown in the air which arcs back to the ground, it is travelling in a straight line in curved space. And that's why it experiences 0-G as it's falling.

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Are transitional animals "missing" as palentologists say [based on net search] and thus there is no case for macro evolution? There is case for micro evolution .

I'm not a biologist, but aren't all species always in transition? But for some evidence on this, aren't there some kinds of snakes that have shoulder blades and no limbs? I've also seen Key Pine Deer, which are deer that have been separated from the mainland on one of the Florida keys 15000 years ago. They only grow to be 20-something inches tall and are able to drink small amounts of salt water. Doesn't mitochondrial DNA show direct linkages from one species to another? In fossil record there are tons of examples. i.e. homo-erectus would be a transition between australopithecus and mondern humans. But like jrs says there could be gaps in that. I'll bet a bone-afide biologist probably knows of complete records of species transitioning from one to another.

Edited by DrBaltar

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As for the gas law, PV=nRT, that is an aproximation which assumes an ideal gas. So it is only a law in conditions that are impossible to achieve.
Well, I think the same applies to Newton's laws really. Where do we find true (classical) inertial frames?

That's not quite true is it? Wasn't there a first cell on earth that came from something that wasn't quite a cell?
I dont know much about biology, but this seems unlikely. It sounds like asking 'wasnt there a first horse which evolved from something that wasnt quite a horse?'. You dont really get sharp boundaries like that in nature - the boundaries of our concepts tend to be fuzzy.

Plus there's the other theory - quantum mechanics, that says that the universe is NOT deterministic.
Whether quantum mechanics is fundamentally indeterministic depends on the interpretation you adopt. Bohmian mechanics is deterministic for instance, and the idea of determinism seems to break down when you try to apply it to MWI.

It's also a very successful theory. So you have two theories, one deterministic, and the other is not, both successful. It's very hard to construct experiments to see if relativity or quantum mechanics blinks first. But since they are in conflict, one or both must be merely a very good approximation.
Special relativity isnt generally considered to be in conflict with quantum mechanics (see: relativistic QM, QFT), I suspect youre thinking of general relativity.

As for time in special relativity, it is constant.
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. Edited by Hal

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I believe the reason that the theory of evolution has not been supplemented with a law of evolution is that biology does not always deal with irreducible primaries. Therefore, qualities such as "life" are not quantifiable, and so it is impossible to measure changes further than basic concepts; "more/less mobile", "different colour" etc. Biology looks at the world at a certain level, and the emergent property of this level is life. I think this is why we cannot explain Biological phenomena with chemistry, or physics, nor mathematics.

Im not a student of biology so I hope the above is accurate...

regards,

Nick

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From the discussion above, I'm led to the question: is there anything outside of mathematics that should be legitimately termed a "scientific law"?
First, I would say that there is nothing which is entirely inside mathematics that is a scientific law. Scientific laws may be expressed with mathematical tools, but formally provable equalities are not "scientific laws", as long as you understand science to be about the real world. Second, there are a number of things that should be called "scientific laws", although they may not be termed "law" contemporarily. The components of the theory of relativity can be considered to be laws, whether or not they are called laws. Sociologically, there has been an inclination to speak of "laws" only when you can construct hard-core numeric equations, but what is fundamental is whether a theory makes concrete predictions.

I don't think that "law" has to do with whether the objects being described are irreducible primaries, because there are scientific laws that deal with gases but a gas is not an irreducible primary. The problem that I see with a "law of evolution" is that, however you state it (someone want to try to propose some wording?), it would be so totally removed from causation that it could not be true. Rather, the law itself should be close to an irreducible primary. The 1-sentence version of the "law of evolution" would give way to a vastly better understanding of the subject matter if it is reduced to such things as the concepts of inheritance, genetics, mutation, reproduction etc.

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Well, I think the same applies to Newton's laws really. Where do we find true (classical) inertial frames?

We don't find them in the sense Newton envisioned, however one of the axioms in general relativity is that space is curved, yet locally flat (where locally can mean a point).

I dont know much about biology, but this seems unlikely. It sounds like asking 'wasnt there a first horse which evolved from something that wasnt quite a horse?'. You dont really get sharp boundaries like that in nature - the boundaries of our concepts tend to be fuzzy.
Me either, but I think the definition of a cell is more rigerously defined. i.e. organelles, chemicals, and water wrapped in a membrane, or cell wall. It seems like with that definition, something either is a cell or it's not. Although perhaps the cell wall did evolve in stages. I don't know.

Whether quantum mechanics is fundamentally indeterministic depends on the interpretation you adopt. Bohmian mechanics is deterministic for instance, and the idea of determinism seems to break down when you try to apply it to MWI.

Yeah, although I see why QM is thought to be indeterministic, I'm with Einstein. I think it only appears that way and that in truth the universe is deterministic - once everything is taken into account.

Special relativity isnt generally considered to be in conflict with quantum mechanics (see: relativistic QM, QFT), I suspect youre thinking of general relativity.

Doesn't QM break causality, which is a no-no in both special and general relativity?

When I say "As for time in special relativity, it is constant." yes, to observers in SR observing other objects moving at different velocities, time appears to be flowing at different rates. But when you look at the 4D spacetime, it is an unchanging 4 dimensional structure.

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(someone want to try to propose some wording?) [...]. Rather, the law itself should be close to an irreducible primary.

I'll give it a shot.

Law of Evolution: life evolves

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... nothing which is entirely inside mathematics that is a scientific law.
Sure. The only reason I threw in the comment about Math was to rule it out of this discussion. I didn't want someone to give me 2+2=4 as an example of a scientific law.
...although they may not be termed "law" contemporarily. The components of the theory of relativity can be considered to be laws, whether or not they are called laws.
Yes, I understand that contemporary usage might be different. I'm trying to figure out if "law" is a meaningful term in the context of science, and where it stands in relation to "fact", "axiom", "theory" and "hypothesis". I'm also trying to figure out if the concept of a "theory" implies a degree of uncertainity, as would be implied by "hypothesis", or if it ought to have the same degree of certainity we mean when we say "fact".
I don't think that "law" has to do with whether the objects being described are irreducible primaries, because there are scientific laws that deal with gases but a gas is not an irreducible primary. ... Rather, the law itself should be close to an irreducible primary.
I don't understand your point.

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Law of Evolution: life evolves
Is that really what the "law of evolution" would be? I had hoped for something more meaningful, like "the genetic constitution of lifeforms changes". I wouldn't even say "life evolves" is a scientific claim, much less a law of any sort. Maybe you can show what is law-like about that.

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I'm trying to figure out if "law" is a meaningful term in the context of science, and where it stands in relation to "fact", "axiom", "theory" and "hypothesis". I'm also trying to figure out if the concept of a "theory" implies a degree of uncertainity, as would be implied by "hypothesis", or if it ought to have the same degree of certainity we mean when we say "fact".
"Fact" refers to reality -- actual gravity and things like it, which is metaphysics. The remainder are conceptual. "Axiom" refers to recognition of a primary, self-evident fact which other concepts depend on (such as "time", which "soon" is dependent on). The concepts hypothesis, theory and law are on different points of the certainty scale -- I would say that a law must be certain, and could be rephrased as "recognition of a causal fact". A hypothesis can be merely plausible (and cannot be certain); a theory should have been well-tested, but I don't think it must be absolutely established as "correctly describing the fact". At the same time, I don't think that a theory is necessarily uncertain -- theory allows but does not entail uncertainty. Theory and law might overlap to some extent, since "theory" is used to refer to both a general collection of claims about a broad area of science, and can also be used to speak of a specific, concrete claim about a single phenomenon. The latter could be called a law, but nobody would talk about Freud's law of psychology. People do sometimes talk of Einstein's law of mass-energy equivalence, but not his law of relativity. The reason, I think, is that relativity has a much broader scope. That's my understanding of these terms, at least.

When I say that a law should be close to an irreducible primary, I mean that it should have the closest possible correspondence to fundamental facts of reality. Physical conservation laws would be good examples, assuming that there is "stuff" out there that corresponds to the concepts charge, spin, mass, angular momentum etc. If you could explain away physical conservation laws as really being shorthand for something else, they wouldn't be good examples of "law", but for historical reasons it would be right to continue to talk of the law of conservation of charge.

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I'll give it a shot.

Law of Evolution: life evolves

This is the way a lot of people think of evolution. However, this is not just incomplete, but misleading. Evolution does not theorize that any particular individual life-form evolves in any way. Many people think that an individual life-form develops (as part of evolution) some adaptation that let's it fit its environment better. How does it do so, the "ID" folk ask, if this were not divinely inspired? It might indeed be miraculous if life-forms adapted in that sense. Rather, evolution accepts that variations are random, and that apparent adaptation takes place across many generations even though no individual adaptation is taking place at all.

The main thrust of the "ID" folk is that there must be some type of selection to choose just the right adaptation out of the millions of possibilites. Randomness cannot explain it, they say. The Theory of Evolution is the answer to this quandary. It explains how the reality of survival and reproduction increase the likelihood that some of the "better" random variations will be propogated through the population across the generations.

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The problem that I see with a "law of evolution" is that, however you state it (someone want to try to propose some wording?), it would be so totally removed from causation that it could not be true. Rather, the law itself should be close to an irreducible primary. The 1-sentence version of the "law of evolution" would give way to a vastly better understanding of the subject matter if it is reduced to such things as the concepts of inheritance, genetics, mutation, reproduction etc.

Darwinian evolution has two parts:

1. Living things have inheritable characteristics (genes) which occasionally change (mutation aka variation).

2. Those inheritable characteristics which increase the organism's expected number of offspring (sharing those characteristics) under present circumstances tend to become more common than those which do not. I.e. that which causes reproduction causes reproduction, i.e. A is A.

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2. Those inheritable characteristics which increase the organism's expected number of offspring (sharing those characteristics) under present circumstances tend to become more common than those which do not. I.e. that which causes reproduction causes reproduction, i.e. A is A.
I don't know what Darwin's thoughts on that were, but I would imagine that "expected" doesn't really play any role in evolution, since plants and animals evolved millions of years before there were expectations. Your short summary version "that which causes reproduction causes reproduction" makes it clear why there is no scientific law of evolution -- this isn't a specific scientific law-like claim about the nature of existence, it's an instantiation of a self-evident philosophical principle. OTOH, laws of physical conservation are not self-evident.

We could get closer to a "law" by saying something like "The genetic instructions of all life is contained in DNA". The problem is that this would fail the certainty test because it hasn't been verified off-planet. If it turns out that DNA is the universal vector for genetics, that would be a stunning discovery, but until the question of life elsewhere is resolved, I don't see how there could be a law of evolution.

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Darwinian evolution has two parts: [mutation and natural selection.]

What is perhaps more significant in terms of offending the religionists is the related fact that all living things are descended from a common ancestor. And our distant ancestors were not human; nor will our distant descendants (if any) be human.

... I would imagine that "expected" doesn't really play any role in evolution, since plants and animals evolved millions of years before there were expectations.

I meant "expected" in the sense of probability theory -- an average over possible outcomes weighted by the probabilities.

Your short summary version "that which causes reproduction causes reproduction" makes it clear why there is no scientific law of evolution -- this isn't a specific scientific law-like claim about the nature of existence, it's an instantiation of a self-evident philosophical principle. OTOH, laws of physical conservation are not self-evident.
My point is that evolution IS philosophically obvious. All the objections to evolution are based on philosophical absurdities which contradict the axioms. E.g. assuming that things which are clearly changing will not change.

We could get closer to a "law" by saying something like "The genetic instructions of all life is contained in DNA". The problem is that this would fail the certainty test because it hasn't been verified off-planet. If it turns out that DNA is the universal vector for genetics, that would be a stunning discovery, but until the question of life elsewhere is resolved, I don't see how there could be a law of evolution.

If we correctly reach a generalization by induction from life-as-we-know-it, then according to Objectivism that generalization remains true CONTEXTUALLY even if we subsequently discover other kinds of life.

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I meant "expected" in the sense of probability theory -- an average over possible outcomes weighted by the probabilities.
The number of offspring born by any of a collection of 100 males during their life is going to be zero. The number of offspring born by a collection of 100 females during their life is whatever it is -- it might be more than zero. There's the problem: I don't know how to use probability theory to compte "expected" (though I do know how to do the dice mathematics). Is it possible that males will give birth, and just very improbable? Suppose one of the females in the pool is totally infertile: then is it possible that she will give birth, or simply very improbable? (Let's leave miracles of modern medicine out of the discussion for the moment). Once a female is dead, is it simply improbable that she will give birth, or impossible? Or suppose you have strictly monogamous critters, if a female's partner is shooting blanks, is it improbable or impossible that she will bear offspring? There is no difference between "increasing the number of expected offspring" and "increasing the number of offspring". The distinction between probable and possible is either epistemological (it has to do with what we don't know, and has no bearing on evolution), or meaningless.
My point is that evolution IS philosophically obvious. All the objections to evolution are based on philosophical absurdities which contradict the axioms. E.g. assuming that things which are clearly changing will not change.
I agree that evolution is a self-evident tautology -- that's why it's not a scientific law.

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Evolution isnt self-evident - its not obvious a priori that any traits are going to be inheritable, nor is it obvious that things like mutation and crossovers occur. Evolution depends on the fact that DNA can change when it is being passed on to offspring, which isnt remotely tautological. Lamarckian evolution doesnt seem less self-evident than Darwinian, yet it is a false theory.

The theory of evolution was initially controversial because it contradicted our Aristotelian 'essentialist' philosophical tradition, which held that universals such as 'cat' and 'zebra' were immutable. The idea that there were no real essences in nature certainly wasnt self-evident to most people at the time, as can be seen from the fact that pretty much all major philosophers from Plato onwards believed that there were.

Also, the fact that 'things change' isnt equivalent to Darwin's thesis. People had known for centuries that you could (eg) produce superior horses though controlled breeding and selection, so it was already accepted that animals could change their properties across generations. However this was generally framed within an Aristotelian framework where individuals of a species could only change their accidental properties, rather than anything essential to their specieshood. Darwin threw all this out the window.

Edited by Hal

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The number of offspring born by any of a collection of 100 males during their life is going to be zero.
Offspring in this context includes the children they father.

There's the problem: I don't know how to use probability theory to compte "expected"
You dont need to compute the precise expected value; this is subjective probability so we get to just make up numbers that sound realistic (I kid, I kid). However, its fair to say that an attractive male is more likely to have a large number of offspring than an ugly one, all other things being equal. Similarly, a caveman who is able to outrun sabre-tooth tigers is more likely to live to breed than one who isnt, all other things being equal. So we can tenatively say that these traits increase the expected number of offspring. We dont have to give exact quantative numerical values to these probabilities (this would be impossible), we just need to know that one will be greater than the other.

Is it possible that males will give birth, and just very improbable? Suppose one of the females in the pool is totally infertile: then is it possible that she will give birth, or simply very improbable?
Well, the idea of using a large sample space is to avoid freak individual events screwing things up. Whether or not a male has a 1 in a million chance of giving birth doesnt really make much difference when youre talking about a sample size of 1000 - we can assume that all the highly improbable events cancel each other out.

There is no difference between "increasing the number of expected offspring" and "increasing the number of offspring".
Yes, there is. For instance, a woman is infertile. She goes to the hosptial and gets cured, yet she gets hit by a bus on the way home and dies. The operation would still have increased her number of expected offspring, even though the actual number didnt increase. By an increase in the expected offspring, we mean that all other things being equal, someone with this trait would be more likely to bear children than someone without. A relative frequency interpretation of probability is helpful here - if you take 1000 attractive males and 1000 ugly men in a non-monogomous species, then the number of offspring produced by the attractive ones should exceed those produced by the ugly ones. Obviously in any particular case this might not be true - an attractive male might be eaten by a tiger before he has sex. But over a sufficiently large sample, these trends should hold. Edited by Hal

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A relative frequency interpretation of probability is helpful here - if you take 1000 attractive males and 1000 ugly men in a non-monogomous species, then the number of offspring produced by the attractive ones should exceed those produced by the ugly ones. Obviously in any particular case this might not be true - an attractive male might be eaten by a tiger before he has sex. But over a sufficiently large sample, these trends should hold.

Your evidence for this is the evolution of predominantly "handsome" men over the past few hundred thousand years...?

It's not clear to me why you're selecting *males* in terms of "attractiveness", and it is also not clear in what sense you are using the term, which seems ambiguous in your context. What makes a man attractive to a woman, and what makes a woman attractive to a man, are not symmetrical. Beautiful appearance (of a woman) counts for far more to men, statistically, and statistically, there are many more beautiful women than "beautiful" men. Furthermore, this *is* the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution already.

Further evidence of the asymmetry is provided by the statistical distribution of nude/porn photography. The vast majority of such images are focused on females, and the proportion that are males are usually targeted at gays.

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Your evidence for this is the evolution of predominantly "handsome" men over the past few hundred thousand years...?
I was simplifying; you can replace attractiveness with "anything that increases sexual attractiveness within some animal community". So I suppose it could be tailfeathers on a peacock or something. I admit "attractiveness" is too vague though, even for a simplification; I should have used a characteristic that was more precise, like physical strength or the ability to outrun tigers.

Enviromental context is important when it comes to talking about 'beneficial traits', since something that increases fitness in one environment could potentially reduce it in another (eg, human standards of beauty vary to some extent across cultures). But given some particular context, some traits will be better than others, and this is enough to justify talk about the increase of expected offspring.

Edited by Hal

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Evolution isnt self-evident - its not obvious a priori that any traits are going to be inheritable, nor is it obvious that things like mutation and crossovers occur.
Part 2 of the proposed law is self-evident. The fact that there is inheritance and that there are mutations is not self-evident. By itself, that statement of fact also isn't a Scientific Law. As I understand JRS's proposal, the proposal for a "Law of Evolution" involves some relationship between his two statements. All I'm seeing here is more evidence that there isn't and can't be a Law of Evolution.
Evolution depends on the fact that DNA can change when it is being passed on to offspring, which isnt remotely tautological.
I would not be surprised if this is proven false, although not during my lifetime. I don't believe that Moties have DNA, but they evolve because their inheritance mechanisms contain mutable molecules.
Offspring in this context includes the children they father.
Uh, who cares about offspring? I was speaking of the fact that males cannot give birth to children (Schwartzenegger flicks notwithstanding). Tell me whether it is impossible for a male to bear children, or improbable. The point which I made was that whatever you say about evolution, no concept of "expected" has any cash value. If a person's nature is such that they cannot bear young, then they cannot bear young, period. If their nature changes in such a way that they have more offspring, then they will have more offspring.

One thing you need to grasp is that I never spoke of men or women, just males and females. Adding volitional beings complicates issue of evolution is a very interesting way, one which shows how natural selection is a superficial principle. The hardcore facts is that many traits are inherited, in humans many are learned, that there are physical principles regarding inheritable traits, and that the vector of inheritable traits almost necessarily has to be a molecule with flexible (mutable) structure.

I said we were leaving out medical miracles, so I am plonking your woman whacked by a bus story: it isn't relevant. Pandas cannot cure themselves of infertility or other reproductive problems, and they will die because of that.

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Part 2 of the proposed law is self-evident.
If natural selection were obvious, why did it take Darwin and Malthus to point it out? Natural selection says a lot more than "things which are capable of surviving survive".

I would not be surprised if this is proven false, although not during my lifetime. I don't believe that Moties have DNA, but they evolve because their inheritance mechanisms contain mutable molecules
Moties are a fictional species featured in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's SF novels The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand. :confused:

Tell me whether it is impossible for a male to bear children, or improbable.
Its semantically impossible, since if a male ever gave birth we would probably stop referring to him as a male. Being able to produce children is generally taken as one of the more defining aspects of being female.

The point which I made was that whatever you say about evolution, no concept of "expected" has any cash value. If a person's nature is such that they cannot bear young, then they cannot bear young, period. If their nature changes in such a way that they have more offspring, then they will have more offspring.
Appeals to nature here is just a refusual to give a more detailed explanation. "Everything acts according to its nature". Great. But this doesnt move us forward, and it has no explanatory value in this context. Edited by Hal

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