From phyla to philosophy: Or the epistemological problem of sticking out one’s neck

Felicity Haynes
Vol 3, Number 2, p.41
In this paper I want to explore the logical consequences of adopting evolution as a model of epistemological development and at the same time retaining notions of human choice and values in epistemology. Given the disparity between the passive Darwinian model and an assumption that rationality underlies conceptual development, what happens to the argument or the analogy? It may well be that accepting the biological model leads one ultimately to reject the idea that man somehow chooses to adapt both his intellectual environment and his theories to suit his needs, and has any way of judging such adaptations to be better than its predecessor, but that is a step most philosophers would not take lightly; indeed, as we shall see in this paper, Toulmin, Piaget and Popper will often take what seem to be desperate measures to preserve some notions of rationality, preference and intention in their concept of epistemological change.