Cultural Evolution and Social Epistemology: A Darwinian Alternative to Steve Fuller’s Theodicy of Science

Social Epistemology 31 (2):224-234 (2017)
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Abstract

Key to Steve Fuller’s recent defense of intelligent design is the claim that it alone can explain why science is even possible. By contrast, Fuller argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory posits a purposeless universe leaving humans with no motivation to study science and no basis for modifying an underlying reality. I argue that this view represents a retreat from insights about knowledge within Fuller’s own program of social epistemology. I argue for a Darwinian picture of science as a product of cultural evolution building upon biological capabilities and liabilities bequeathed to us by biological evolution. Dual Inheritance or Gene-Culture Coevolution Theory can help us understand how complex social institutions emerged out of distinct, if connected, processes of biological and cultural evolution. Only by understanding how the unnatural nature of modern science emerged through cultural evolution can we consider where modern science functions well or poorly.

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