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Friday, December 08, 2017

Is Hodges' model a selection machine?

Sober (1984) Child's toy
"It is gratifying to find these biological ideas already enshrined in the ordinary meaning of 'selection for' and 'selection of'. My young son has a toy which takes all the mystery out of this distinction. Plastic discs with circles cut out of them are stacked with spaces in between in a closed cylinder. Top-most disc contains very big holes, and the holes decrease in size as one moves down from disc to disc. At the top of the cylinder are found balls of different sizes. A good shaking will distribute the balls to their respective levels. The smallest balls end up arrayed at the bottom. The next smallest sized balls settle at the next level up, and so on. It happens that the balls of the same size also happen to have the same color. Shaking sends the black balls to the bottom, the pink to the next level up, and so on. The whole cylinder (plus paternal administered shaking) is a selection machine. The device selects for small balls (these are the ones which pass to the bottom). It does not select for black balls (even though these are the ones that pass to the bottom). But when we ask after a shaking what was selected, it is equally correct to say that the black balls were selected and that the small ones were. 'Selection for' focuses on causes; 'selection of' picks out effects." p.50-51.
Sober, E. Force and disposition in evolutionary theory. In. Hookway, C. (ed.) (1984). Minds, Machines And Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.43-61.

Image adapted from figure 4 within "Is art an adaptation? Prospects for an evolutionary perspective on aesthetic emotions" http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~sousa/artfunction/art.htm

See also: slide 35/47  http://slideplayer.com/slide/9735486/