Joined: Nov. 2011
|Quote (keiths @ Feb. 16 2012,13:08)|
|Which is to say, not a tautology at all. "Survival of the fittest" would be a tautology only if biologists defined the "fittest" as "those who survive". E=mc2 would be a tautology only if m were defined as E/c2. Physicists don't define m in that way, and so E=mc2 is not a tautology. |
Yes, and in your saying that, I guess I was being "too clever by half", in saying that fitness is tautological in the same way (or, more precisely, non-tautogological in the same way) as E=mc2. Even so, both are
covertabilities and productions, "effects" of the underlying physics, not definitions of the forces themselves. That is the connection I support as "tautological", although I grant that maybe insisting on "equivalencies" or "conversions" would be better terminology.
|Right. It just seems odd to me that you would call it a tautology when it's falsifiable. "A falsifiable tautology" is an oxymoron. To use the classic example, we don't need to examine a single actual bachelor in order to determine that "all bachelors are unmarried" is a tautology. It's true by definition.|
I accept your point, but there's overloading going on here, or a tautology within a non-tautology.
If we stipulate that the fitness in the "looking forward" sense we agreed on here is NOT tautological, then it remains true, nonetheless, that looking backward, once we understand that, that whoever survives by our observation is, by definition, "the fittest".
Maybe it helps to put it this way. The process, in principle, is non-tautological. But in practice, whatever survives we label as "most fit". In that sense, constrained to the dynamics of fitness as the outworking of differential survival via variable heritable traits, we do apply a tautology, or at least we say that whatever survived is the most fit.
Without doing all the calculations, which we COULD do, in principle, we are left in practice with a tautological response: "oh, well if these are the ones that survived, then they are by definition the most fit".
They are not "by definition the most fit" if we suppose it's because they simply had more muscle mass and that is our rule, or that "God wanted these ones to survive, and made it so". The tautology is limited to the outcomes of the non-tautological processes we've discussed above as "fitness".
We can't do the math, or make forward predictions with any precision, so we are left with seeing who survived and reproduced, and applying "fittest" as retrodiction.
Edited by eigenstate on Feb. 16 2012,16:39