The Arrival of the Fittest

  • Peter McLaughlin
Conference paper
Part of the The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective book series (PSEP, volume 2)


In one of his early sketches from the Russian Revolution Jaroslav Hasek tells the story of a more zealous than competent Red Army commander who sought to foster literacy among the peasants in the area where he was stationed by posting a written notice ordering them to learn how to read within three days. Those inhabitants of the county still illiterate after this period were to be shot. Had the local Bolshevik commissar (Hasek) not crossed the commander’s plans, the proposition, “All adult inhabitants of the county are literate,” might have become true, and its truth would have been explainable by appeal to a sort of selection. Some people believe that adaptation by means of natural selection proceeds more or less along the lines of Colonel Jerochymov’s program of literacy by firing squad. Selection, they believe, explains only the survival but not the arrival of the fittest.


Natural Selection Base Pair Substitution Individual Thinking Population Thinking Hopeful Monster 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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