Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Social Darwinians Re-Invent the Wheel, Call Sophistry “Evolutionary Adapation,” and Helpfully Explain That Sophistry is Valuable

In Developing Sophistic Skills
By Nicholas Stix

And evolution is an “evolutionary adapation” that is valuable in developing evolutionary abilities.

“Reasoning doesn’t have this function of helping us to get better beliefs and make better decisions,” said Hugo Mercier, who is a co-author of the journal article, with Dan Sperber. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince [N.S.: Con] others and to be careful [hostile, dogmatic] when others try to convince us.” Truth and accuracy were beside the point….

What is revolutionary about argumentative theory is that it presumes that since reason has a different purpose - to win over an opposing group - flawed reasoning is an adaptation in itself, useful for bolstering debating skills.

Formulating stupid, specious arguments is valuable, because they help develop our ability to formulate more stupid, specious arguments. So, there!

If these guys are right, then promoting bad arguments within hunter-gatherer groups had nothing to do with coming up with a better way to bag a deer, and led to the group’s … death by starvation. But that’s ok, because in evolution, everything is an evolutionary adaptation that is valuable in developing … evolutionary adaptations.

Next up: How murder is an evolutionary adaptation that helps morality.

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