John CollierIn chnops-thermodynamics, John Donald Collier (1950-) is a Canadian philosopher and so-called "physical information theorist" noted for his defense of what he calls the “Brooks-Wiley theory” or physical information theory, namely the information theory, semi-thermodynamics, and evolution theory presented Canadian zoologist Daniel Brooks and American zoologist Edward Wiley’s 1986 Evolution as Entropy: Towards a Unified Theory of Biology, in which, as critics argued, the “they abused terminology from information theory and thermodynamics.” [1] Brooks and Wiley, in their defensive rebuttal second edition (1986), open their preface by stating that Collier has made important advances, in the previous two years, in clarifying the relationship between information theory, physical information systems, and entropy. [2]

Collier completed his BS in earth and planetary science, focusing on planetary interiors, in 1971 at MIT. He then completed a MA in analytic philosophy, focusing on the relation between the subjective and objective aspects of science, at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1984, he completed a PhD, dissertation “Progress in Scientific Revolutions: the Problem of Semantic Incommensurability” (see: scientific revolutions), at the University of Western Ontario.

In 1991, he began teaching full time at the University of British Columbia, where he met a group of biologists centered around Daniel Brooks and Edward Wiley and their recently developing so-called “unified theory of biology” based on a mixture of information theory, non-equilibrium dynamics, and thermodynamics, after which Collier began giving Brooks and Wiley tutorials on information theory, which soon became the major focus of his research. Collier has since transitioned through several universities and research groups: University of Calgary, Rice University, Indiana University, University of Melbourne (1991), University of Newcastle (1995-2001), Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (2002), and the philosophy department of the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa (2003-present).

1. Collier, John D. (1986). “Entropy and Evolution” (abs), Biology and Philosophy, 1:5-24.
2. (a) Brooks, Daniel R. and Wiley Edward O. (1988). Evolution and Entropy (pg. ix). University of Chicago Press.
(b) Collier, John D. (1988). “The Dynamics of Biological Order”, in: Entropy, Information and Evolution (§10, pgs. 229-42), editors: Bruce Weber, David Depew, and James Smith. MIT Press, 1988.
3. John Collier (about) – Foundations of Information Science.

Further reading
● Collier, John D. (1990). “Two Faces of Maxwell’s Demon Reveal the Nature of Irreversibility”, Studies in the History of Philosophy of Science, 21:257-68.

External links
John Collier –
John Collier (faculty) – Philosophy, Howard College, University of Kwazulu-Natal.

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