To paraphrase the website Understanding Evolution, “fitness” is used to describe how good a particular organism is at getting its offspring into the next generation relative to the other organisms around it. When people study evolution using mathematics or computers, they imagine there are compact ways of describing what makes an organism fit for a particular environment. That’s what they mean by “fitness functions.”
So imagine you have two kinds of creatures living in an environment. The first is tuned to respond directly to objective reality — the actual independent reality out there. The other creature has behavior only tuned to its, and the environment’s, fitness function. The second creature couldn’t care less about what’s really going on in reality. What Hoffman’s theorem says is the fitness-tuned critter will — almost always — win the evolution game. More.
Frank finds the idea attractive:
Indeed, criticisms both closely reasoned and otherwise can be found from a variety of sources. For myself, I find the logic in Hoffman’s ideas both exciting and potentially appealing because of other philosophical biases I carry around in my head. Also, it’s clear from the body of his work that Hoffman has been seriously attacking the problem from a range of angles for a while.
But the ideas are also so radical that I’m inclined to think they’re wrong (as most ideas this radical tend to be). It’s gonna take a lot of proof to tip the scales in my (and most others’) view.
By now, 2014 [when Chomsky’s critic Everett appeared], Evolution was more than a theory. It had become embedded n the very anatomy, the very central nervous system of all modern people. Every part, every tendency, of every living creature had evolved from some earlier life form—even if you had to go all the way bak to Darwin’s “four or five cells floating in a warm pool somewhere” to find it. A title like “The Mystery of Language Evolution” was instinctive. It went without saying that any “trait” as important as speech had evolved… from something. Everett’s notin that speech had not evolved from anything—it was a “cultural tool” man had made for himself—was unthinkable to to the vast majority of modern people. They had all been so deep-steeped in the Theory that anyone casting doubt upon it obviously had the mentality of a Flat Earther or a Methodist. (pp. 253–54)
See also: A cognitive scientist’s “evolutionary argument against reality”
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