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Biology Epistemology and Local Maxima

The parable of the cup and the quart applies here. There’s a quart of milk on the table—within your reach. But you’re holding a cup of milk in your hand and you’re afraid to let go of the cup in order to get the quart. (Location 811)


biological evolution often reaches ‘local maxima of fitness’. (Location 2797)
in an evolving species, the dominant strain in each generation differs only slightly from that in the previous generation. Nevertheless, scientific discovery is a gradual process too; it is just that, in science, all the gradualness, and nearly all the criticism and rejection of bad explanations, takes place inside the scientists’ minds. (Location 1977)
the intermediate explanations leading a scientist from one good explanation to the next need not be viable at all. The same is true of creative thought in general. This is the fundamental reason that explanatory ideas are able to escape from parochialism, while biological evolution, and rules of thumb, cannot. (Location 1982)