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Charles Darwin meets Amoeba economicus: Why Natural Selection Cannot Explain Rationality

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  • Elias L. Khalil

Abstract

Advocates of natural selection usually regard rationality as redundant, i.e., as a mere linguistic device to describe natural selection. But this "Redundancy Thesis" faces the anomaly that rationality differs from natural selection. One solution is to conceive rationality as a trait selected by the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection as . But this "Rationality-qua-Trait Thesis" faces a problem as well: Following neo-Darwinism, one cannot classify one allele of, e.g., eyesight as better than another without reference to constraints—while one can classify rationality as better than irrationality irrespective of constraints. Therefore, natural selection cannot be a trait. This leads us to the only solution: Rationality is actually a method that cannot be reduced to a trait. This "Rationality-qua-Method Thesis" lays the ground for alternative, developmental views of evolution.

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Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2006-22.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2006-22

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Keywords: Redundancy Thesis; rationality anomaly; Rationality-qua-Trait Thesis; incoherence problem; Rationality-qua-Method Length 31 pages;

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  1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. Hammerstein, Peter & Selten, Reinhard, 1994. "Game theory and evolutionary biology," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 28, pages 929-993 Elsevier.
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