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6R10DB9: Baldwin Square

BALDWIN » CERES » EROS » VERTEX


The Baldwin Effect: a Crane, not a Skyhook If we give individuals a variable chance to hit upon (and then "recognize" and "cling to") the Good Trick in the course of their lifetimes, the near-invisible needle in the haystack . . . . becomes the summit of a quite visible hill that natural selection can climb. . . . Over generations, the competition becomes stiffer: eventually, unless you are born with (or very nearly with) the Good Trick, you are not close enough to compete. If it weren't for the plasticity, however, the effect wouldn't be there, for "a miss is as good as a mile" unless you get to keep trying variations until you get it right. Thanks to the Baldwin effect, species can be said to pretest the efficacy of particular different designs by phenotypic (individual) exploration of the space of nearby possibilities. If a particularly winning setting is thereby discovered, this discovery will create a new selection pressure: organisms that are closer in the adaptive landscape to that discovery will have a clear advantage over those more distant. This means that species with plasticity will tend to evolve faster (and more "clearsightedly") than those without it. (Dennett 1991:186)

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Tags: 615, 6r10db9, baldwin effect
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