Who introduced 'WHY' question? (for selling evolutionary theory of aging)

Dr. Sydney Shall sydney.shall at kcl.ac.uk
Mon Jun 23 05:24:07 EST 2003

I would suggest that whoever introduced why is confusing matters.  
Insofar as evolutionary theory can elucidate the mechanisms and 
evolutionary advantages, it will have answered the questions what are 
the molecular and cellular details of how we age, and how did these 
processes evolve.  beyond this "why" haas no meaning at all, and is in 
danger of introducing metaphysics into biology.  Certainly evolutionary 
theory should help us understand the historical origins of any bit of 
biology.  The concept of a "superior" explanation is merely subjective 
nonsense.  All biologists would welcome the addition of the 
evolutionary origin of any biological phenomenon.  The furthest I would 
go is to agree that without an evolutionary explanation of the origin, 
we have an incomplete explanation.


Sydney Shall

On Monday, June 16, 2003, at 09:54  am, Leonid Gavrilov wrote:

> Greetings,
> May I ask your advice on the following issue:
> Recently we have encountered with strong arguments
> from evolutionary biologists that the evolutionary
> theory of aging is superior over all other aging
> theories, because the evolutionary theory
> is the ultimate 'WHY' theory
> (it answers the question  'why' do we age),
>  in contrast to all other "proximate" aging theories
> that can answer only the question 'how' do we age.
> I am seeking your advice on the following couple of questions:
> (1) Who introduced this 'WHY'-question argument in favor of the
> evolutionary theory of aging ?
> (2) Are there any published rebuttals to the use of  this
> 'WHY'-question argument in selling the evolutionary theory ?
> Your advice would be very, very much appreciated !
> Thank you in advance !
> Kind regards,
> -- Leonid Gavrilov 
> Senior Member of the Science Advisory Board
> (http://www.scienceboard.net/)
Professor Sydney Shall
Department of Molecular Medicine
GKT Medical School
The Rayne Institute
123 Coldharbour Lane
E-mail:sydney.shall at kcl.ac.uk
Tel:020 7 848 5901

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