Carls-Diamante, Sidney

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The argument from Evel (Knievel) : daredevils and the free energy principle

2022, Carls-Diamante, Sidney

Much of the literature on the free energy principle (FEP) has focused on how organisms maintain homeostasis amidst a constantly changing environment. A fun- damental feature of the FEP is that biological entities are “hard-wired” towards self-preservation. However, contrary to this notion, there do exist organisms that appear to seek out rather than avoid conditions that pose an elevated risk of serious injury or death, thereby jeopardizing their physiological integrity. Borrowing a term used in 1990s popular culture to refer to stunt performers like Evel Knievel, these organisms that exhibit such behavioural characteristics can be referred to as daredevils. This paper presents the case of daredevils as a challenge to the FEP’s homeo- stasis- and optimization-based construal of biological systems. It also introduces three possible explanatory strategies by which the FEP can account for daredevils. The broader objective of the paper is to enhance the FEP’s ability to account for a diverse range of complex behaviour.