Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sterelny wins the Lakatos Award

My masters supervisor, Kim Sterelny, has just won the Lakatos Award for his book, Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition (Blackwell Publishers, 2003), in which he discusses the problem of naturalizing epistemology, using an evolutionary account.

Kim is one of the rare critics of evolutionary psychology and sociobiology who tries very hard to do what he thinks is the right way to incorporate evolution and mind, rather than carping from the sidelines.

The Lakatos Award is given for "an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, widely interpreted, in the form of a book published in English during the previous six years". Kim's background in both philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind makes him an ideal contributor for this task.

Six months of the year, Kim is Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and the rest of the time he's at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

I haven't read it yet, Kim, but I promise I will...

Off to the hills of Ediacara

I am heading off to the Flinders Ranges tomorrow, wherein lies the type locality for the newly named Edicaran Era, a pre-Cambrian geological period with some of the earliest soft-bodied multicellular fauna known.

My travelling companions are Chris Nedin, a paleontologist who escaped academe for sanity, but whose doctoral thesis was on these wee beasties, Ian Musgrave, a polymath and general madman who knows far more than anyone ought to about the evolution of bacterial flagella (ask him anything about molecular biochemistry, and you will learn, oh yes, you will learn...), and Jim Foley, the creator and keeper fo the truly amazing Fossil Hominids FAQ recognised as one of the major web resources on human evolution even by scientific workers.

Our mission? To be photographed drinking Cooper's Pale (or Draught, if Chris wants to) in front of the type locale, of course. Or anywhere else that is interesting and needs a drink to be had there. We may solve the world's problems, but I doubt any of us will remember it the next day...

I will return with opinions again soon - one of laws in biology and ecology - so hang about, sip on a good beer, down that chocolate, and read Pharyngula in the meantime.

[Late note: I will get to a report on this as soon as one of my fellow travellers gives me his notes. There will be photos, excluding the ones of me in shorts (some things are just too awful).]