Dawkins’ Rule

Values of percentage differ from one another by degree, not kind. Dawkins’ rule is similar. It states that discrete elements of a set, varying by the magnitude of some criterion, differ from one another by degree, not kind, with respect to that criterion of magnitude (http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/1/28/the-tyranny-of-the-discontinuous-mind#). A corollary of Dawkins’ rule is that a set of elements differing in degree cannot be logically divided into discrete groups, where the groups are differentiated as kinds, because differences of degree are continuous, not discrete.
In one application of his rule, according to Dawkins, genetic variants in an evolutionary line must vary by degree as a continuum because offspring do not vary in kind from their progenitors.
Dawkins applies his rule within and across evolutionary lines. He gives two examples within evolutionary lines. One is the evolutionary line extending from the common ancestor of both the pig and man to man. The other line extends from the common ancestor to the pig. Dawkins indicates that because man and the pig differ from their common ancestor by degree, man and the pig must differ from each other by degree, not kind. I assented to that expression of the conclusion, until I realized that Dawkins’ rule is not complete unless ‘not kind’ is completed by ‘with respect to that criterion of magnitude’.
If B differs from A in magnitude by some criterion and C differs from A in magnitude by that same criterion, then B and C differ (or are equal) in magnitude. Although B and C differ (or are equal) in degree, not kind, with respect to that criterion, they may differ in kind by other criteria.
Dawkins implies that in every evolutionary line, each subsequent variant differs in magnitude from its preceding variant by one or more criteria. However, this does not rule out differences other than by those criteria of magnitude. According to Dawkins, man and the pig differ (or are equal to) one another in some criterion because they differ in magnitude of that criterion from their common evolutionary ancestor. Nevertheless, they must differ from one another by at least one other criterion, because they are in different evolutionary lines.
If man and the pig differed only by degree for each criterion of a set, the two evolutionary lines could not diverge from the common ancestor. They would have to be a single evolutionary line, which by the evolutionary scheme, they are not. Therefore man and the pig differ by an additional criterion relevant to evolution, which admittedly could also be one of magnitude, but must be different from the criteria of magnitude by which they differ in degree, not kind, within their respective evolutionary lines from their common ancestor. The implication is that biological offspring can only differ in degree from their progenitors. If evolutionary lines are viewed solely as hereditary lines, evolutionary change can only be that of degree in some criteria of magnitude. This implication cannot explain a divergence into two different lines.
Explaining divergence into two evolutionary lines is not as important as identifying the criteria of magnitude by which variants in a single line differ. At the current stage of scientific development, genetic variants are distinguished from one another by their genomic maps, i.e. by discrete kind. Yet, Richard Dawkins assures us that all genetic variants in their evolutionary relationships differ from one another by continuous degree with respect to criteria of magnitude, not by discrete kind. The criteria must be identified. It is insufficient to argue that such criteria must exist because a biological progenitor and its offspring cannot differ in kind. What must be explained is how the differences between genomic maps of variants in the same evolutionary line are differences of degree, differences solely of magnitude and not differences of kind.
I am anxious to read an essay by Richard Dawkins identifying the criteria, varying in magnitude, which are the key to genomic evolutionary genetic variation. Realistically I should only expect the reply of Heraclitus of Ephesus that genomic maps are the prevalent forms currently undergoing evolutionary change in the course of the continuum of biological generation, not discrete entities in themselves; that this essay of mine is merely based on a false perspective, the false perspective of a discontinuous mind, like that of Zeno of Elea.
It is one thing to say that small changes in form, i.e. in kind, add up to big changes in kind, whether those morphological changes are identified as visual as in the days of Darwin or are identified as genomic and molecular as in the days of Dawkins. It is quite something else to say that evolutionary modification through descent is not morphological but one of magnitude because by definition biological reproduction admits of change only in degree.
Dawkins can be consistent. According to Dawkins, material complexity gives the illusion of design, when in fact design by definition is a human concept, which achieves material expression only in human artifacts. Similarly, according to Dawkins, morphological evolution, whether visual or genomic, is the illusion of a difference of kind, when we know that evolutionary modification through descent can be only of degree, not kind, by definition of reproductive descent.


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