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Re: [evol-psych] Emergent properties

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  • Jay R. Feierman
    Ian, Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful comments. Why do you say that I was misrepresenting Tinbergen, when I said that his concept of the function of
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 1, 2003
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      Ian,
      Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful comments. Why do you say that
      I was misrepresenting Tinbergen, when I said that his concept of the
      function of behavior (or "adaptiveness" or behavior) was to help the
      observer categorize behavior, which is what he did with the concept in The
      Study of Instinct.
      Why does my statement "that in terms of behavior, natural selection can
      chose behavior per se, as in the case of simple fixed action patterns,"
      contradict an earlier statement I made? What earlier statement? When I said
      that only currently existing substance or matter can be the object of
      natural selection, that statement is still true. I didn't say that genes are
      the only existing substance or matter that is selected. As an example,
      behavior per se is not genes.
      I also know that it is the relationship of genes with extra-genetic
      material that is being selected, but natural selection is still giving a
      selective advantage to the individuals who harbor the actual genes. The
      classic gray month in London only has a selective advantage in the
      extra-genetic, polluted environment of London. But it is not the polluted
      environment that is being selected for in terms of changing gene frequencies
      in the moth population, just the moths that have the gray-making genes.
      Anyway, even the extra-genetic polluted environment is a physical structure
      or matter This whole thread was related to my skepticism regarding whether
      an attributed functional property that does not have physical structure,
      such as an EP module, could be the object of natural selection.
      Also, when you say that theory of mind is one of the oldest research
      programs where empirically testable hypotheses were generated by an EP
      module, what are some examples of the EP modules, the empirically tested
      hypotheses and the data? I really don't know, as I don't read the theory of
      mind literature.
      Oyama's work is very interesting but doesn't relate to my issue that
      only structural matter (not limited to genes) can be selected by natural
      selection. However, as an aside, it doesn't lead me to "overcome the idea
      that traits are transmitted" or that "evolution consists of changes in gene
      frequencies." One just needs to broaden their concept of what is a trait and
      what is evolution to accommodate what we now know about molecular biology.
      Even if traits are "constructed of developmental systems" with nature and
      nurture components, when a dog or horse breeder (as a model of natural
      selection) selects for a trait, that trait is transmitted to many of the
      offspring and eventually the herd or kennel is going to consist of a
      population of dogs or horses with changed gene frequencies.
      How does Oyama's work that you cite relate to the original issue of
      whether a trait that is defined solely by its function, such as an EP
      module, can be the object of natural selection? All of the components listed
      by Oyama -- the genome (whose parts interact), cell structure (including
      organelles such as mitochondria which have their own DNA), the extracellular
      environment, parental reproductive systems, self-stimulation, physical
      environment, conspecifics, and climate -- are physical structures or changes
      in environmental energy (climate). They are not properties defined solely by
      their function, which is the whole issue with EP modules.
      Regards,
      Jay R. Feierman

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Ian Pitchford" <ian.pitchford@...>
      To: <evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2003 2:57 PM
      Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Emergent properties


      > Jay R. Feierman wrote:
      >
      > In terms of behavior, natural selection can chose behavior (muscles moving
      in
      > space and time) per se, as in the case of simple fixed action patterns.
      > __________
      >
      > REPLY: This contradicts your earlier statement (also a misrepresentation
      of
      > Tinbergen) that
      >
      > "When Tinnbergen (sic) said we need to understand a behavior's function,
      as one
      > of the four fundamentals in understanding any behavior, it was to help the
      > observer categorize the behavior, e.g, maternal, courtship, etc., not to
      > attribute the function to the behavior itself."
      > -------------
      >
      > Jay R. Feierman wrote
      >
      > Nothing you have said has convinced me that the object of natural
      selection can
      > be an attributed function property (such as an EP module) or an emergent
      > property (such as society-forming behavior). So perhaps we should stop
      trying
      > to convince one another that the other person is correct.
      > ____________
      >
      > REPLY: Genes are not causally sufficient to produce any outcome (as you
      agree),
      > but they can increase in frequency in the gene pool because of the
      contribution
      > they make to a fitness-enhancing outcome. You are wrong to claim that
      'only
      > currently existing substance or matter (that exhibits variation) can be
      the
      > objects of natural selection' because, of course, the effective object of
      > selection is the **relationship** between a host of developmental system
      > variables.
      >
      > In order to overcome the idea that traits are transmitted and that
      evolution
      > consists of changes in gene frequencies we need to understand that traits
      are
      > constructed by developmental systems, that nurture is 'as crucial to
      typical
      > characteristics as atypical ones', and that nature and nurture are joint
      > determiners of form and function. Any element of the developmental system
      that
      > we arbitrarily apportion to nature ('genetic programs') or nurture
      > (environment) can be the source of variation, and evolution is, therefore
      'the
      > derivational history of developmental systems' (Oyama, 2000a, p. 49). The
      > interactants in developmental systems include the genome (whose parts
      > interact), cell structure (including organelles such as mitochondria which
      have
      > their own DNA), the extracellular environment, parental reproductive
      systems,
      > self-stimulation, physical environment, conspecifics, and climate (Oyama,
      > 2000a, pp. 73-74) and so on. All of these elements have informational
      status
      > identical to that of information within the genome, hence Oyama's
      reference to
      > her view of developmental systems theory as the ontogeny of information.
      >
      > -------------
      >
      > Jay R. Feierman wrote
      >
      > I will ask you a question that I asked Irwin Silverman a few days ago. If
      EP
      > modules are useful, name some testable hypotheses that were generated by
      EP
      > modules and tell me the findings of the research. There should not be
      another
      > simple, more elegant way of forming the same or similar question, other
      wise,
      > parsimony wins. Name a testable hypothesis that was tested that was only
      > capable of being generated by an EP module hypothesis.
      > ------------
      >
      > REPLY: I assume this is a rhetorical question as you have already referred
      to
      > one of the oldest research programs, that on theory of mind.
      >
      > You also argue that moods cause behaviour. In what sense are moods not
      modular?
      >
      > Regards
      >
      > Ian Pitchford PhD CBiol MIBiol
      > Editor, Evolutionary Psychology http://human-nature.com/ep/
      > Editor, Human Nature Review http://human-nature.com/
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Human Nature Review http://human-nature.com
      > Evolutionary Psychology http://human-nature.com/ep
      > Human Nature Daily Review http://human-nature.com/nibbs
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
      >
    • Robert Karl Stonjek
      ... RKS: I didn t attribute that to you. I extrapolated you position to see where it led, and it led to single cells. JRF: I never said that and don t believe
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 1, 2003
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        > Robert,
        >    
        You ended your long posting by saying, "Thanks, Jay, you've certainly simplified evolution for me." I know that is tongue in cheek, but you are welcome. However, you are complicating evolution for me!  You imply that I believe that the only entities that can be the object of natural selection are single cells.
         
        RKS:
        I didn't attribute that to you.  I extrapolated you position to see where it led, and it led to single cells.
         
        JRF:
         I never said that and don't believe that. What I said and believe is that only currently existing substance or matter (that exhibits variation) can be the objects of natural selection. I didn't say how complex the matter is, only that it is matter that exists at the time that natural selection is choosing it.
         
        RKS:
        But your definition of 'emergent' and subsequent assertion that emergent properties can't be selected for leads me to think otherwise.
         
        The brain is an emergent organ.  It emerges from neurons.  There is no brain in single neurons (though, as Koch points out in "Biophysics of Computation: Information Processing in Single Neurons", they are very far beyond simple switches).  Further, the bulk of our Genes are dedicated to brain structures.  So a larger brain could not have evolved.
         
        When you think about it carefully, there aren't to many selectable structures that are under the control of just one gene.  Further, selection of an individual is also selection of *all* that individual's genes, but the offspring only have about half of them.  Only breeders can maintain isolation and apply selection as Darwin envisaged it.  In real colonies, favoured genes increase as a percentage against competing genes in the same colony.
         
        The problem for the simpler thinking thus far has been the imagined single trait evolving.  But this is not so. When one trait changes, even slightly, it gives numerous other traits and numerous other genes an opportunity to increase in that population.
         
        JRF:
        In terms of behavior, natural selection can chose behavior (muscles moving in space and time) per se, as in the case of simple fixed action patterns. That of course leads indirectly to natural selection for the favorable variation in the neural substrates that stochastically increases the probability that the fixed action pattern will occur. Or, natural selection can directly chose favorable variations in the neural substrates that underlie more complex, goal oriented behaviors that result from specific mood states, since specific moods can be satisfied by many different specific behaviors. And, natural selection can also chose favorable variations in the neural substrates that underlie generalized problem solving skills to get around mood-thwarting obstacles. And that's it.
         
        RKS:
        Not quite.  Only instinctually based animals, that is, those whose behaviour is largely governed at the genetic level (where the brain is simply an interface between genetic predisposition and the environment).  Also, the set of behaviours must fairly limited.  Otherwise, a change to one behaviour will effect numerous others.
         
        I can see something like your scheme applying to the spider that has preprogrammed routines such that it will approach it's burrow; put down it's prey; got to the burrow; roll back the cover stone; return to the prey; return to the burrow; place the prey at the bottom of the burrow; return to the cover stone and replace it; return to the prey and eat it.
         
        Interruption of this routine, say by an observer who rolls back the stone when the spider is returning to the prey (still on the surface).  The spider will pick up the prey; see that the stone is still in place; drop the prey; return to the stone and remove it; return to the prey. If the observer continues to replace the stone, the spider will continue in this cycle, like a stuck record, until it dies of starvation.
         
        Was the spider in the mood for lunch?  Not subjectively, that's for sure.  "Feeding mode" makes much more sense to me.
         
        Rigid traits like this can easily be under the control of single genes and so be highly selectable, assuming there is some selection pressure (if fail to remove stone after n cycles; search for and bite the nearest scientist; return to burrow and continue previous cycle).
         
        JRF:
        That's all I need to understand evolution by natural selection. With that, natural selection can create all the variations in life that we see, including humans. In my opinion, all the other concepts that we have discussed in this thread are the results, rather than the objects of the above process. Nothing you have said has convinced me that the object of natural selection can be an attributed function property (such as an EP module) or an emergent property (such as society-forming behavior). So perhaps we should stop trying to convince one another that the other person is correct. I think at this point, we are repeating ourselves. Our inability to convince one another rationally of each others point of view is a good argument for the minor role of cognition in determining the major course of our behavior. Moving our fingers writing to each other is behavior!
        RKS:
        Evolution is a work in progress, and so to are the theories that describe it.  We should bear that in mind before taking any stance that is inflexibly rigid.
         
        Kind Regards,
        Robert Karl Stonjek.
      • H.M. Hubey
        ... Pressure in a gas is due to the [change in the] momenta of gas particles when they bounce against the walls (of the container or of the pressure measuring
        Message 3 of 11 , Nov 1, 2003
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          Robert Karl Stonjek wrote:

           
          RKS:
          The definition is a good one.  In physics we generally use 'linear' and 'non-linear' to describe processes that can be explained by the careful examination of components (eg molecules) and those that can not.  But a closer examination, especially with relativity in mind, and we find that many 'properties' of objects are in fact not properties at all.
           
          Speed, momentum, kinetic energy, length contraction, time dilation etc are all properties we readily assign to objects in motion, but are in fact not properties of those objects at all.  When two non accelerating particles collide, for instance, we can consider either particle to be stationary despite the measured velocities.
          Pressure in a gas is due to the [change in the] momenta of gas particles when they bounce against the walls (of the container or of the
          pressure measuring instrument). But momentum is given by p=mv. It is linear in either mass or velocity. Perhaps the product is
          considered nonlinear. Is this what you mean?

          PS.  Pressure is (or seems to be) an emergent property since a gas molecule or gas atom has no "pressure" but only "momentum".
          Pressure is a property of the ensemble of particles not of any specific particle. Is this not
          really a problem of re-definition? What if we had decided to use the same word for pressure and momentum?

          -- 
          Mark Hubey
          hubeyh@...
          http://www.csam.montclair.edu/~hubey
        • Robert Karl Stonjek
          I found it logical to consider summing the environmental conditions into which an animal evolves in the following way: 1) genetic environment; 2) physical
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 1, 2003
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            I found it logical to consider summing the environmental conditions into
            which an animal evolves in the following way:
            1) genetic environment;
            2) physical environment (the animal's body)
            3a) immediate kin (parents, siblings).
            3b) compatriot group;
            4a) rivals, predators, and prey;
            4ab) weather; non-predator/prey/food flora and fauna; landscape;

            An evolving gene must first be successful in the physical
            environment (1 in 2);
            The animal must be accepted, protected, nurtured, and breed in the
            group (2 in 3);
            the group must be able to gather food, survive predators, and endure the
            weather (3 in 4).

            But I can also consider the environment of any animal to be 3+4 (1+2 in
            3+4), or of a gene to be ( 1 in 2+3+4).

            We can sum the other way:
            the environment (4) comprises of various species (4 consists of 3);
            species consist of individual members (3 consists of 2);
            phenotype is made up from genes (2 consists of 1).

            We can also sum the group (3 consists of 1+2) and so consider the genes of
            the group or
            4 consists of 1+2+3 and consider the genetic makeup of the environment.
            (any species that makes up 4 can be considered specifically as a 3).

            A physicist would have fewer qualms about making such a consideration.
            Reducing the entire environment to genes with emergent properties confined
            to 1, 2 and 3 has mathematical-like determinism written all over it. But
            this aesthetic is probably not pleasing to the evolutionary psychologist :(

            Kind Regards,
            Robert Karl Stonjek.
          • Jay R. Feierman
            Robert, Again, thank you for your thought provoking comments. I believe there is one aspect of this topic we both agree and another aspect we might partially
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 1, 2003
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              Robert,
                  Again, thank you for your thought provoking comments. I believe there is one aspect of this topic we both agree and another aspect we might partially agree. I would agree that emergent properties that can be defined SOLELY on the basis of structure (morphological or behavioral), can be the objects of natural selection. The following are two examples of emergent properties defined SOLELY on the basis of structure. The second example is more complex than the first: (1) Arabian horse breeders breed horses who naturally arch their neck, which is an emergent property, caused by numerous genes and other elements in neural tissue moving numerous neck muscles. However, it is an easily defined, arching behavioral structure, based on the rather static contractions of several muscles that arch the neck. Such selection works because Arabian horses arch their necks more than other breeds.
                  The second example is more complex because the behavioral structure is more variable, meaning it uses more complex and varied muscles movements. (2) Retriever dogs are bred on their ability to retrieve game birds. Retrieving is an emergent property that results from the effects of numerous genes and other elements in neural tissue, as well as the capacity of the dog to respond to a stimulus that needs to be retrieved, not to eat the bird and listen to and watch for non-verbal commands of the hunter. Selection for that trait obviously works, since retrieving breeds retrieve better than other breeds.You could say that retrieving is also a functionally defined property because it is derives from parental care behavior that is used to bring stray puppies back to the den. The answer to the question, "What is the function of retrieving behavior?" would be "to bring puppies back to the den." However, retrieving is not defined SOLELY by its function, since an observer can observe the retrieving behavior per se and define it on the basis of its structure, albeit it is definitely more variable in structure than simply arching ones neck. Breeders breed the best dogs, based on their field performance. So it is a trait that is being selected for on the basis of behavioral structure, even though it has a function.
                  What are examples of emergent properties, defined SOLELY on the basis of function, that can be bred selectively by animal breeders? If you or anyone else on the list can identify even one, that would be important to know. For a property to be defined SOLELY on the basis of function, it can not have any definable behavioral structure. Because if it did, then the behavioral structure per se could be the object of selection.
                  I am so used to working backwards from behavior, based on Tinbergen's four ways to "understand" any behavior, which starts with identifying the behavior and then asking: (1) what is its phylogeny, (2) how does it develop in the life of the individual, (3) what is its proximate cause and (3) what is its function?  I am not used to starting with a function and then working backwards and trying to answer the other questions. That has not been the tradition of animal behavior research over the last 75 years because the early studies showed that traits defined solely on the basis of function can not have a phylogeny, since functions of similar behavior can change through phylogeny. The best known examples are in water fowl.
                  In that respect -- and here is my breakthrough or 'ah hah' experience -- perhaps there are human-specific emergent properties that are defined solely on the basis of function that are the objects of natural selection. If they are human-specific, they would not have to have a phylogeny! I can think of only one possible example. It would be GENERAL problem solving skills to get around mood-thwarting obstacles, ie., that would be the function of the property. Since there are myriads of behaviors and behavioral strategies that could be used, one could not define this property on the basis of structure. For example, the same or very similar problem solving skills could be used to find out-of-the-ordinary food, out-of-the-ordinary shelter, a non-available mate, avoid a novel predator, outwit a novel enemy,  etc. Are there any other examples? However, domain-specific problem solving skills, which is my understanding of EP modules, are another issue, if they lead to predictable and therefore definable and selectable behavior, since then the behavior could be selected per se.  I am thinking of normal courtship, normal maternal care, normal hunting, etc., which involves very stereotyped behaviors.
                  As an aside and possibly a relief from such heavy discussions, I am reminded of a very interesting experience I had 10 years ago, living for several weeks on the very remote, Micronesian island of Falalop, which is part of the Walleai atoll, and less than a half a mile by a mile across, inhabited by 300 Micronesians. They had figured out over generations and then passed the skills across generations though imitation learning, how to survive on a sandbar, four feet above sea level, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the only usable native plant on the atoll being coconut trees and with only shell tools. At some point in time, the ability to survive in that environment required novel problem solving for sure, but once the problems were solved, new generations just had to learn the skills from the old generations. I remember thinking that without their know how and ingenuity, I would have starved to death very quickly, as I'm sure a lot of them did when they were learning these skills originally by trial and error.
                  Appreciate that this whole emergent property string got started by you arguing that EP modules are emergent properties and that other emergent properties have been the objects of natural selection, so why not also EP modules. Anyway, I've certainly enjoyed our exchange.
              Regards,
              Jay R. Feierman
              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2003 4:56 PM
              Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Emergent properties

              > Robert,
              >     You ended your long posting by saying, "Thanks, Jay, you've certainly simplified evolution for me." I know that is tongue in cheek, but you are welcome. However, you are complicating evolution for me!  You imply that I believe that the only entities that can be the object of natural selection are single cells.
               
              RKS:
              I didn't attribute that to you.  I extrapolated you position to see where it led, and it led to single cells.
               
              JRF:
               I never said that and don't believe that. What I said and believe is that only currently existing substance or matter (that exhibits variation) can be the objects of natural selection. I didn't say how complex the matter is, only that it is matter that exists at the time that natural selection is choosing it.
               
              RKS:
              But your definition of 'emergent' and subsequent assertion that emergent properties can't be selected for leads me to think otherwise.
               
              The brain is an emergent organ.  It emerges from neurons.  There is no brain in single neurons (though, as Koch points out in "Biophysics of Computation: Information Processing in Single Neurons", they are very far beyond simple switches).  Further, the bulk of our Genes are dedicated to brain structures.  So a larger brain could not have evolved.
               
              When you think about it carefully, there aren't to many selectable structures that are under the control of just one gene.  Further, selection of an individual is also selection of *all* that individual's genes, but the offspring only have about half of them.  Only breeders can maintain isolation and apply selection as Darwin envisaged it.  In real colonies, favoured genes increase as a percentage against competing genes in the same colony.
               
              The problem for the simpler thinking thus far has been the imagined single trait evolving.  But this is not so. When one trait changes, even slightly, it gives numerous other traits and numerous other genes an opportunity to increase in that population.
               
              JRF:
              In terms of behavior, natural selection can chose behavior (muscles moving in space and time) per se, as in the case of simple fixed action patterns. That of course leads indirectly to natural selection for the favorable variation in the neural substrates that stochastically increases the probability that the fixed action pattern will occur. Or, natural selection can directly chose favorable variations in the neural substrates that underlie more complex, goal oriented behaviors that result from specific mood states, since specific moods can be satisfied by many different specific behaviors. And, natural selection can also chose favorable variations in the neural substrates that underlie generalized problem solving skills to get around mood-thwarting obstacles. And that's it.
               
              RKS:
              Not quite.  Only instinctually based animals, that is, those whose behaviour is largely governed at the genetic level (where the brain is simply an interface between genetic predisposition and the environment).  Also, the set of behaviours must fairly limited.  Otherwise, a change to one behaviour will effect numerous others.
               
              I can see something like your scheme applying to the spider that has preprogrammed routines such that it will approach it's burrow; put down it's prey; got to the burrow; roll back the cover stone; return to the prey; return to the burrow; place the prey at the bottom of the burrow; return to the cover stone and replace it; return to the prey and eat it.
               
              Interruption of this routine, say by an observer who rolls back the stone when the spider is returning to the prey (still on the surface).  The spider will pick up the prey; see that the stone is still in place; drop the prey; return to the stone and remove it; return to the prey. If the observer continues to replace the stone, the spider will continue in this cycle, like a stuck record, until it dies of starvation.
               
              Was the spider in the mood for lunch?  Not subjectively, that's for sure.  "Feeding mode" makes much more sense to me.
               
              Rigid traits like this can easily be under the control of single genes and so be highly selectable, assuming there is some selection pressure (if fail to remove stone after n cycles; search for and bite the nearest scientist; return to burrow and continue previous cycle).
               
              JRF:
              That's all I need to understand evolution by natural selection. With that, natural selection can create all the variations in life that we see, including humans. In my opinion, all the other concepts that we have discussed in this thread are the results, rather than the objects of the above process. Nothing you have said has convinced me that the object of natural selection can be an attributed function property (such as an EP module) or an emergent property (such as society-forming behavior). So perhaps we should stop trying to convince one another that the other person is correct. I think at this point, we are repeating ourselves. Our inability to convince one another rationally of each others point of view is a good argument for the minor role of cognition in determining the major course of our behavior. Moving our fingers writing to each other is behavior!
              RKS:
              Evolution is a work in progress, and so to are the theories that describe it.  We should bear that in mind before taking any stance that is inflexibly rigid.
               
              Kind Regards,
              Robert Karl Stonjek.
            • Robert Karl Stonjek
              Robert Karl Stonjek wrote: RKS: The definition is a good one. In physics we generally use linear and non-linear to describe processes that can be
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 2, 2003
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                Robert Karl Stonjek wrote:

                 
                RKS:
                The definition is a good one.  In physics we generally use 'linear' and 'non-linear' to describe processes that can be explained by the careful examination of components (eg molecules) and those that can not.  But a closer examination, especially with relativity in mind, and we find that many 'properties' of objects are in fact not properties at all.
                 
                Speed, momentum, kinetic energy, length contraction, time dilation etc are all properties we readily assign to objects in motion, but are in fact not properties of those objects at all.  When two non accelerating particles collide, for instance, we can consider either particle to be stationary despite the measured velocities.
                Pressure in a gas is due to the [change in the] momenta of gas particles when they bounce against the walls (of the container or of the
                pressure measuring instrument). But momentum is given by p=mv. It is linear in either mass or velocity. Perhaps the product is
                considered nonlinear. Is this what you mean?

                PS.  Pressure is (or seems to be) an emergent property since a gas molecule or gas atom has no "pressure" but only "momentum".
                Pressure is a property of the ensemble of particles not of any specific particle. Is this not
                really a problem of re-definition? What if we had decided to use the same word for pressure and momentum?

                -- 
                Mark Hubey
                hubeyh@...
                http://www.csam.montclair.edu/~hubey
                RKS:
                I had in mind relativity. When you are out in space and a particle is approaching you at some speed
                we can assume that the particle has momentum. But another observer could point out that the particle
                is stationary and that it is you that is approaching the particle.
                So which one has momentum?  It is only when the collision occurs that 'momentum' makes sense, and
                when we calculate it out it doesn't matter which object we consider to be moving and thus has momentum.
                Thermodynamics considers some interesting properties when single events are considered.  Let's say I
                drop an ice cube into a cup of boiling hot water. Now I zoom in on just one ice molecule at random.
                Assuming that an energy exchange will occur, what is the probability that the ice molecule will emit
                energy into the coffee rather than absorb energy?
                The answer is 50:50.  Even though we know, from thermodynamics, that the energy will flow from the hot
                coffee into the ice cube, this is only a statistical account of many events. Some go the 'wrong' way.
                When it comes to pressure, any single event (particle striking wall) can be considered either as the 
                wall striking a particle or the particle striking the wall (or both). But when we consider numbers
                of particles it becomes statistically improbable that the container is moving instead of the particles:
                for many particles it is impossible.
                Pressure, temperature and other thermodynamic properties are non-linear and apply only to large numbers
                of particles. Momentum is defined in terms of single events (pre-relativity, pre-quantum theory,
                pre-thermodynamics), so there is no prospect of confusing the definitions.
                When a truck hits you in the street it is momentum that knocks you over.
                Kind Regards,
                Robert Karl Stonjek.
              • Robert Karl Stonjek
                Robert, Again, thank you for your thought provoking comments. I believe there is one aspect of this topic we both agree and another aspect we might partially
                Message 7 of 11 , Nov 2, 2003
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                  Robert,
                      Again, thank you for your thought provoking comments. I believe there is one aspect of this topic we both agree and another aspect we might partially agree. I would agree that emergent properties that can be defined SOLELY on the basis of structure (morphological or behavioral), can be the objects of natural selection. The following are two examples of emergent properties defined SOLELY on the basis of structure. The second example is more complex than the first: (1) Arabian horse breeders breed horses who naturally arch their neck, which is an emergent property, caused by numerous genes and other elements in neural tissue moving numerous neck muscles. However, it is an easily defined, arching behavioral structure, based on the rather static contractions of several muscles that arch the neck. Such selection works because Arabian horses arch their necks more than other breeds.
                   
                  RKS:
                  This is where oversimplification may lead us into error.  A breeder of Arabian Horses has a conception of the attributes of a good Arabian Horse including arching neck.  But the breeder will also consider the appearance of the horse.  What more complex and sometimes vague attribute could there be than appearance?
                   
                  Properties of the mane, head shape, colour of coat, tail, overall size and numerous other traits.  And these are selected 'on mass'.  What the breeder looks for is a good 'Arabian Horse', that is, having a pleasing mix of all the selectable properties.  Only if all other properties had reached perfection would a breeder consider ONLY the neck arching behaviour.
                   
                  Society forming behaviour is more like an 'Arabian Horse' than a neck arch.  A 'pleasing' mix where no contributing property is deficient is the target.  In a population, it is the mix of individuals - as long as some proportion are thoroughbred society formers the society can hold together.
                   
                  See how this works?  For the horse we have:-
                  1) Gene manifests as a single trait;
                  2) many traits make up a behaviour or complex trait (such as the head arch) (let me call it a property);
                  3) many properties make up the phenotype (eg 'Thorough Bred Arabian', 'Society Forming Imperative')
                  4) many phenotypic variations make up a species (inc. 'Old Arabian nag', 'Psychotic dictator')
                   
                  With your arching neck, you have moved up the hierarchy from single genes=single trait.  I propose that by third rung, an average of the pleasing traits is the best that can be expected and by the fourth, 'negative feedback only' moderates extremes (assuming no environmental change favouring a particular 'extreme' ie 'extreme' relative to the bulk of the population).
                   
                  JRF:
                  The second example is more complex because the behavioral structure is more variable, meaning it uses more complex and varied muscles movements. (2) Retriever dogs are bred on their ability to retrieve game birds. Retrieving is an emergent property that results from the effects of numerous genes and other elements in neural tissue, as well as the capacity of the dog to respond to a stimulus that needs to be retrieved, not to eat the bird and listen to and watch for non-verbal commands of the hunter. Selection for that trait obviously works, since retrieving breeds retrieve better than other breeds.You could say that retrieving is also a functionally defined property because it is derives from parental care behavior that is used to bring stray puppies back to the den. The answer to the question, "What is the function of retrieving behavior?" would be "to bring puppies back to the den." However, retrieving is not defined SOLELY by its function, since an observer can observe the retrieving behavior per se and define it on the basis of its structure, albeit it is definitely more variable in structure than simply arching ones neck. Breeders breed the best dogs, based on their field performance. So it is a trait that is being selected for on the basis of behavioral structure, even though it has a function.
                   
                  RKS:
                  If retrieval of puppies can be selected for, then other behaviours associated with parenting can also be selected for.  So now we have a number of behaviours:
                  retrieving puppies;
                  able to survive the birthing process well;
                  nurturing puppies;
                  having ample and quality milk;
                  etc;
                   
                  which we can call a "parenting imperative" ie retrieving is a level 2 behaviour, parenting is level three.  This can be selected for, but as long as sufficient numbers of quality examples exist in a population of dogs, the dog pack will survive. 
                   
                  We note that behaviours maximised in parenting may compromise other behaviours, so a good mix is more important than a maximised trait, either in an individual, or of individuals in a population eg any dog should be a reasonable parent and a reasonable hunter; a dog pack should have good parents and good hunters (assuming, for simplicity, that the two are mutually exclusive).
                   
                  JRF:
                      What are examples of emergent properties, defined SOLELY on the basis of function, that can be bred selectively by animal breeders? If you or anyone else on the list can identify even one, that would be important to know. For a property to be defined SOLELY on the basis of function, it can not have any definable behavioral structure. Because if it did, then the behavioral structure per se could be the object of selection.
                   
                  RKS:
                  Darwin mentions 'tumblers'.
                   
                  JRF:
                      I am so used to working backwards from behavior, based on Tinbergen's four ways to "understand" any behavior, which starts with identifying the behavior and then asking: (1) what is its phylogeny, (2) how does it develop in the life of the individual, (3) what is its proximate cause and (3) what is its function?  I am not used to starting with a function and then working backwards and trying to answer the other questions. That has not been the tradition of animal behavior research over the last 75 years because the early studies showed that traits defined solely on the basis of function can not have a phylogeny, since functions of similar behavior can change through phylogeny. The best known examples are in water fowl.
                   
                  RKS:
                  Does the tumbling behaviour have such a phylogeny?  What is its function?  What is its proximate cause?
                   
                  From 'On the Origin of Species' we read:
                  "The short-faced tumbler has a beak in outline almost like that of a finch; and the common tumbler has the singular inherited habit of flying at a great height in a compact flock, and tumbling in the air head over heels."
                   
                  JRF:
                      In that respect -- and here is my breakthrough or 'ah hah' experience -- perhaps there are human-specific emergent properties that are defined solely on the basis of function that are the objects of natural selection. If they are human-specific, they would not have to have a phylogeny! I can think of only one possible example. It would be GENERAL problem solving skills to get around mood-thwarting obstacles, ie., that would be the function of the property. Since there are myriads of behaviors and behavioral strategies that could be used, one could not define this property on the basis of structure. For example, the same or very similar problem solving skills could be used to find out-of-the-ordinary food, out-of-the-ordinary shelter, a non-available mate, avoid a novel predator, outwit a novel enemy,  etc. Are there any other examples? However, domain-specific problem solving skills, which is my understanding of EP modules, are another issue, if they lead to predictable and therefore definable and selectable behavior, since then the behavior could be selected per se.  I am thinking of normal courtship, normal maternal care, normal hunting, etc., which involves very stereotyped behaviors.
                   
                  RKS:
                  Language?
                   
                  Bilateral asymmetry (of the brain) probably was the catalyst for many human-specific traits.  No other animal has bilateral specialisation (on one side of the brain and not the other).  Other animals 'think' with the two halves of the brain in parallel.  Humans broke the dual mode.  By the time of the Homo erectus we had structures (Broca's area) specific to just one side of the brain.
                   
                  This may have led to tool making, exclusive property ownership, language, human imagination, discussion groups  etc etc
                   
                  How do you select for bilateral asymmetry??  It does not effect any one behavioural trait but effect all 'subtly'.  There must have been variations in the chimp population from time to time, that conferred bilateral asymmetry.  But it has never taken hold - why?

                  Bilateral asymmetry is physical - we determined that erectus had it by examining the scull (and finding a Broca's cap).  It *must* have been selected for or counter examples would remain.  But onto just what trait did selection gain purchase?

                  If there was one singular advantage to bilateral asymmetry that drove evolution, then most of what we humans are was pre-adapted or exapted along with that trait.  Bilateral asymmetry effects just about all higher brain function (cerebral cortex) by allowing one world view to be compared to another (eg, a scenario as perceived vs as imagined or anticipated - non-bilateral asymmetry animals can only do this serially ie try one then try the other by physically acting it out).
                   
                  On your last point I would also consider indirect evolution.  For instance, consider a sexually selected trait, say tail size in birds, that is also functional, say for flying.  If the sexual selection just happened to favour a tail that conferred superior flying ability, the superior flying (beyond what is required or advantageous and therefore not selectable) may improve to a point where an advantage is within grasp, say a richer food source or an ability to fly to a safer nesting place.
                   
                  In this way, preadaptation can be selected indirectly via sexual selection.  If there is no advantage in having more of something, a better something, a subtler something etc, sexual selection can drive physical changes across the no-man's land of 'no selection pressure' to a point where an advantage is possible (and so a selection pressure re-emerges directly onto that trait).
                   
                  At least some unusual perfection's must have been driven in this way.  Perhaps bilateral asymmetry is sexy to prehuman females but not to Miss chimp?  (bilateral asymmetry never features in the centrefold of play-chimp?)
                   
                  JRF:
                      As an aside and possibly a relief from such heavy discussions, I am reminded of a very interesting experience I had 10 years ago, living for several weeks on the very remote, Micronesian island of Falalop, which is part of the Walleai atoll, and less than a half a mile by a mile across, inhabited by 300 Micronesians. They had figured out over generations and then passed the skills across generations through imitation learning, how to survive on a sandbar, four feet above sea level, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the only usable native plant on the atoll being coconut trees and with only shell tools. At some point in time, the ability to survive in that environment required novel problem solving for sure, but once the problems were solved, new generations just had to learn the skills from the old generations. I remember thinking that without their know how and ingenuity, I would have starved to death very quickly, as I'm sure a lot of them did when they were learning these skills originally by trial and error.
                      Appreciate that this whole emergent property string got started by you arguing that EP modules are emergent properties and that other emergent properties have been the objects of natural selection, so why not also EP modules. Anyway, I've certainly enjoyed our exchange.
                   
                  RKS:
                  Nice to see that you are enjoying yourself. 
                  BTW, if you are having so much fun, why this third shot at terminating the thread? :)
                   
                  Kind Regards,
                  Robert Karl Stonjek.
                • Robert Karl Stonjek
                  ... quite ... RKS: That is the definition I have. Looking from the top down, we have properties existing in collections of objects that do not exist in the
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
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                    > I'd just like to interject that philosophers generally use the term
                    > 'emergent properties' to refer to properties of objects that cannot be
                    > "reduced" to the properties of their parts. Thus, they mean something
                    quite
                    > differenbt from "macroscopic properties", which as far as I can see is all
                    > that are being discussed in this thread.
                    >
                    > I can provide a rigorous, "mainstream" definition of the philosophical
                    > concept if anyone is interested.
                    >
                    > Jeremy Bowman
                    >
                    RKS:
                    That is the definition I have. Looking from the top down, we have
                    properties existing in collections of objects that do not exist in the
                    constituent parts eg heat, consciousness, some behaviour.

                    From the bottom up we have properties which occur (emerge) only when a
                    number of the objects under observation are considered.

                    Jay R. Feierman's argument, as far as I can tell, he seems to claim that
                    only those properties of an animal (including behaviours, physical
                    attributes) that can be attributed to a physical cause can be selected for.
                    That is, if a behaviour is not under the control of a gene then it can not
                    be selected for.

                    In this case we are using 'emergent' to describe some property of an animal
                    that "emerges" from the contribution of several, sometimes hundreds of
                    genes. I claim that if we apply that rule rigidly, we could only consider
                    single celled animals as the objects of natural selection because in complex
                    animals there are numerous emergent properties.

                    The problem of evolution when visualised in its simplest form is that we
                    forget that it is not just this gene or that gene that is selected, but the
                    entire genome of a particular animal. That genome is then randomly mixed
                    with the breeding partner's genome and it is the result that is passed on.
                    The number of traits that are subtly and constantly changing is mind
                    boggling.

                    But when there is selection pressure, say a change in environment, all the
                    best adapted genes should do well, unless they clash. If the temperature
                    drops then some bird species may become vulnerable unless their plumage
                    changes to accommodate the lower temperature. But then they will not be
                    able to fly with the extra weight unless their wings are longer. Or they
                    could become fatter, but only if their bones become hollow (or more
                    hollow/lighter) to balance the weight.

                    But then their bones might break from some muscle flexes so they now must
                    change the shape of the bones to compensate. This doesn't happen serially,
                    but in parallel. This sort of thing gives an enormous opportunity for
                    emergent properties to both emerge and be selected for.

                    Kind Regards,
                    Robert Karl Stonjek.
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