The irreducible theoretic elements of Darwinian natural selection are described.
What is the irreducible theoretic framework of Darwinian natural selection? Psycholinguist, Steven Pinker, who champions an evolutionary explanation for the origination of our language faculty, affords us an admirable summary of the irreducible elements of the theory of natural selection, as follows: Supposing the emergence of replicating entities (in this connection, see: Marshall, Michael. 2011. “First life: The search for the first replicator.” New Scientist. 15 August) which then begin replicating, it is then to be expected that: (1) “under ideal conditions,” these replicating entities will “increase” their numbers “exponentially”; (2) the entities “will necessarily compete for finite resources”; (3) “random” replication “errors” will be experienced by some of the entities “in the sense” that the replication errors “do not anticipate their effects in the current environment”; (4) those replication errors that “happen to increase the rate of replication will accumulate in a lineage and predominate in the population.” Given these four conditions, what transpires after “multiple generations of replication” is that the entities “will show the appearance of design for effective replication” but what has really happened is that the entities have merely “accumulated” replication “errors [i.e. mutations] that had successful replication as their effect.”
Pinker wants to emphasize the “mechanistic” (i.e. algorithmic or computational, automaton-like, mindless) nature of the theory as particularly satisfying (i.e. because it avoids question-begging). In this connection, he tells us that the “outcome of interest” is decisive. This outcome must be the number of replicants “in a finite population.” If it were otherwise, for example, “some human-centered criterion of success (power, preeminence, influence, beauty), then natural selection would not be mechanistic: the dynamics of change in the population could not be mathematically computed from its prior state.” Also involved in the mechanistic nature of natural selection, Pinker informs us, is the randomness or blindness to effect of the replication errors or mutations in the replicating entities. If it were otherwise, then design could enter evolution through the mutation phase as intentional interventions either through the Lamarckian notion “that changes in an organism arise in response to a felt need” or through the creationist notion “that a superior intelligence directed the mutations to be beneficial to the organism.” Finally, there is the surprising outcome to be considered in the cumulative effects of multiple generations of replication. If it were otherwise, and the surprising effect occurred in a single generation, then “natural selection would be banal, since it would add nothing to ordinary physical cause and effect.”
(Reference: Pinker, Steven. 2012. “The False Allure of Group Selection.” An Edge Original Essay. 18 June. http://edge.org/conversation/the-false-allure-of-group-selection)