Taking Simmel Seriously in Evolutionary Epistemology

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Donald T. Campbell outlines an epistemological theory that attempts to be faithful to evolution through natural selection. He takes his position to be consistent with that of Karl R. Popper, whom he credits as the primary advocate of his day for natural selection epistemology. Campbell writes that neither he nor Popper want to give up the goal of objectivity or objective truth, in spite of their evolutionary epistemology. In discussing the conflict between an epistemology based on natural selection and objective truth, Campbell cites an article by the German sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel entitled 'On a Connection of Selection Theory to Epistemology', as presenting the issue in a notably forthright manner.The present essay summarizes Simmel's article, with the purpose of clarifying, in terms that Campbell apparently finds satisfactory, the conflict that Campbell acknowledges between an evolutionary epistemology and ultimate truth; the essay then examines the responses of Campbell and Popper to Simmel's position. While Campbell and Popper acknowledge the work of Simmel, their responses suggest something less than a full consideration of Simmel's position.
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First archival date: 2017-08-04
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