Underqualified-maximal generality in Darwinian explanation : a response to Matt Gers
Gers (Biol Philos, 2011) provides a positive and constructive view of the project to generalise Darwinian principles in Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen's Darwin's Conjecture. We note considerable overlap with his work and ours, and also with important recent work of Godfrey-Smith (2009), which Gers cites extensively. But we also note that there are differences in research objectives between Gers and Godfrey-Smith, on the one hand, and ourselves, on the other. Gers and Godfrey-Smith focus on the elucidation of the most general principles possible. Our aim is to derive principles that are sufficiently abstract to span the natural and human social worlds, and then add additional principles to help understand the Darwinian evolution of human society. Furthermore, Gers and Godfrey-Smith critique a replicator concept that is different from ours. Once these points are made apparent, the criticisms are essentially disabled, and we end up in a position with different but complementary and overlapping research projects.