What is the Darwinian revolution and why is it important for philosophers? These are the questions tackled in this Element. In four sections, the topics covered are the story of the revolution, the question of whether it really was a revolution, the nature of the revolution, and the implications for philosophy, both epistemology and ethics.
Drawing on work of the past decade, this volume brings together articles from the philosophy, history, and sociology of science, and many other branches of the biological sciences. The volume delves into the latest theoretical controversies as well as burning questions of contemporary social importance. The issues considered include the nature of evolutionary theory, biology and ethics, the challenge from religion, and the social implications of biology today (in particular the Human Genome Project).
In June 1975, the distinguished Harvard entomologist Edward O. Wilson published a truly huge book entitled, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. In this book, drawing on both fact and theory, Wilson tried to present a com prehensive overview of the rapidly growing subject of 'sociobiology', the study of the biological nature and foundations of animal behaviour, more precisely animal social behaviour. Although, as the title rather implies, Wilson was more surveying and synthesising than developing new material, he com pensated by giving (...) the most thorough and inclusive treatment possible, beginning in the animal world with the most simple of forms, and progressing via insects, lower invertebrates, mammals and primates, right up to and in cluding our own species, Homo sapiens. Initial reaction to the book was very favourable, but before the year was out it came under withering attack from a group of radical scientists in the Boston area, who styled themselves 'The Science for the People Sociobiology Study Group'. Criticism, of course, is what every academic gets (and needs!); but, for two reasons, this attack was particularly unpleasant. First, not only were Wilson's ideas attacked, but he himself was smeared by being linked with the most reactionary of political thinkers, including the Nazis. (shrink)
(1) For much of this century, moral philosophy has been constrained by the supposed absolute gap between is andought, and the consequent belief that the facts of life cannot of themselves yield an ethical blueprint for future action. For this reason, ethics has sustained an eerie existence largely apart from science. Its most respected interpreters still believe that reasoning about right and wrong can be successful without a knowledge of the brain, the human organ where all the decisions about right (...) and wrong are made. Ethical premises are typically treated in the manner of mathematical propositions: directives supposedly independent of human evolution, with a claim to ideal, eternal truth. (shrink)
Preface ix Introduction 1 1 Two Thousand Years of Design 9 2 Paley and Kant Fight Back 31 3 Sowing the Seeds of Evolution 51 4 A Plurality of Problems 69 5 Charles Darwin 89 6 A Subject Too Profound 107 7 Darwinian against Darwinian 129 8 The Century of Evolutionism 151 9 Adaptation in Action 171 10 Theory and Test 195 11 Formalism Redux 223 12 From Function to Design 249 13 Design as Metaphor 271 14 Natural Theology Evolves (...) 291 15 Turning Back the Clock 313 Sources and Suggested Reading 339 Illustration Credits 358 Acknowledgments 359 Index 361. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology has a long and honourable history. Indeed, like most of the great intellectual achievements of the Western World, it goes back to the Greeks. However, until recently in this century, it was sadly neglected. With a few noteworthy exceptions, someone wishing to delve into the subject had to choose between extremes of insipid vitalism on the one hand, and sterile formalizations of the most elementary biological principles on the other. Whilst philosophy of physics pushed confidently ahead, the (...) philosophy of biology languished. In the past decade, however, things have changed dramatically. A number of energetic and thoughtful young philosophers have made real efforts to master the outlines and details of contemporary biology. They have shown that many stimulating problems emerge when analytic skills are turned towards the life-sciences, particularly if one does not feeI con strained to stay only with theoretical parts of biology, but can range over to more medical parts of the spectrum. At the same time, biology itself has had one of the most fruitful yet turbulent periods in its whole history, and more and more biologists have grown to see that many of the problems they face take them beyond the narrow confines of empiric al science: a broader perspective is needed. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics - the application of evolutionary ideas to moral thinking and justification - began in the nineteenth century with the work of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, but was subsequently criticized as an example of the naturalistic fallacy. In recent decades, however, evolutionary ethics has found new support among both the Darwinian and the Spencerian traditions. This accessible volume looks at the history of thought about evolutionary ethics as well as current debates in the subject, examining first the claims (...) of supporters and then the responses of their critics. Topics covered include social Darwinism, moral realism, and debunking arguments. Clearly written and structured, the book guides readers through the arguments on both sides, and emphasises the continuing relevance of evolutionary theory to our understanding of ethics today. (shrink)
What are biological species? Aristotelians and Lockeans agree that they are natural kinds; but, evolutionary theory shows that neither traditional philosophical approach is truly adequate. Recently, Michael Ghiselin and David Hull have argued that species are individuals. This claim is shown to be against the spirit of much modern biology. It is concluded that species are natural kinds of a sort, and that any 'objectivity' they possess comes from their being at the focus of a consilience of inductions.
This short and highly accessible volume opens up the subject of the philosophy of biology to professionals and to students in both disciplines. The text covers briefly and clearly all of the pertinent topics in the subject, dealing with both human and non-human issues, and quite uniquely surveying not only scholars in the English-speaking world but others elsewhere, including the Eastern block. As molecular biologists peer ever more deeply into life’s mysteries, there are those who fear that such ‘reductionism’ conceals (...) more than it reveals, and there are those who complain that the new techniques threaten the physical safety of us all. As students of evolution apply their new-found understanding to our own species, some people think that this is merely an excuse for racist and sexist propaganda, and others worry that the whole exercise blatantly violates the religious beliefs many of us hold dear. These controversies are the joint concern of biologists and philosophers—of those whose task it is to study the theoretical and moral foundations of knowledge. The comprehensive and fully up-to-date bibliography makes this an invaluable and indispensable guide. (shrink)
Presenting an ardent defence of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, this book offers a clear and comprehensive exposition of Darwin's thinking. Michael Ruse brings the story up to date, examining the origins of life, the fossil record, and the mechanism of natural selection. Rival theories are explored, from punctuated equilibrium to human evolution. The philosophical and religious implications of Darwinism are discussed, including a discussion of Creationism and its modern day offshoot, Intelligent Design Theory. Ruse draws upon the most recent (...) discoveries, writing with a minimum of jargon in order to appeal to all readers, from professional biologists to those concerned that Darwinism is a naturalistic religion that is forced on school children despite their own Christian convictions. Openly revealing his own beliefs, Ruse presents readers with all the information and critical tools they need to make an informed decision on evolutionary theory. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics has a bad reputation. But we must not remain prisoners of our past. Recent advances in Darwinian evolutionary biology pave the way for a linking of science and morality, at once more modest yet more profound than earlier excursions in this direction. There is no need to repudiate the insights of the great philosophers of the past, particularly David Hume. So humans’ simian origins really matter. The question is not whether evolution is to be linked to ethics, but (...) how. (shrink)
Preface 9 PART I: RELIGIOUS, SCIENTIFIC, AND PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND Introduction to Part I 19 1. The Bible 27 2. Natural Theology 33 William Paley 3. On the Origin of Species 38 Charles Darwin 4. Objections to Mr. Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Species 65 Adam Sedgwick 5. The Origin of Species 73 Thomas H. Huxley 6. What Is Darwinism? 82 Charles Hodge 7. Darwinism as a Metaphysical Research Program 105 Karl Popper 8. Karl Popper’s Philosophy of Biology 116 Michael (...) Ruse 9. Human Nature: One Evolutionist’s View 136 Francisco Ayala 10. Universal Darwinism 158 Richard Dawkins PART II: CREATION SCIENCE AND THE McLEAN CASE Introduction to Part II 187 11. The Creationists 192 Ronald L. Numbers 12. Creation, Evolution, and the Historical Evidence 231 Duane T. Gish 13. Witness Testimony Sheet: McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education 253 Michael Ruse 14. United States District Court Opinion: McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education 279 Judge William R. Overton 15. The Demise of the Demarcation Problem 312 Larry Laudan 16. Science at the BarùCauses for Concern 331 Larry Laudan 17. Pro Judice 337 Michael Ruse 18. More on Creationism 345 Larry Laudan 19. Commentary: Philosophers at the BarùSome Reasons for Restraint 350 Barry R. Gross PART III: INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM AND THE KITZMILLER CASE Introduction to Part III 369 20. But Isn’t It Creationism? The Beginnings of "Intelligent Design" in the Midst of the Arkansas and Louisiana Litigation 377 Nick Matzke 21. What Is Darwinism? 414 Phillip E. Johnson 22. Is It Science Yet? Intelligent Design, Creationism, and the Constitution 426 Matthew Brauer, Barbara Forrest, and Steven G. Gey 23. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Expert Witness Testimony 434 Michael Behe 24. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Expert Report 456 Robert T. Pennock 25. A Step toward the Legalization of Science Studies 485 Steve Fuller 26. What Is Wrong with Intelligent Design? 495 Elliott Sober 27. United States District Court Memorandum Opinion: Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. 506 Judge John E. Jones II 28. Can’t Philosophers Tell the Difference between Science and Religion? Demarcation Revisited 536 Robert T. Pennock. (shrink)
Michael Ruse offers a new analysis of the often troubled relationship between science and religion. Arguing against both extremes - in one corner, the New Atheists; in the other, the Creationists and their offspring the Intelligent Designers - he asserts that science is the highest source of human inquiry. Yet, by its very nature and its deep reliance on metaphor, science restricts itself and is unable to answer basic, significant questions about the meaning of the universe and humankind's place within (...) it: why is there something rather than nothing? What is the meaning of it all? Ruse shows that one can legitimately be a skeptic about these questions, and yet why it is open for a Christian, or member of any faith, to offer answers. Scientists, he concludes, should be proud of their achievements but modest about their scope. Christians should be confident of their mission but respectful of the successes of science. (shrink)
This paper considers the question of whether the explanation of homosexual orientation offered by Sigmund Freud qualifies as a genuine explanation, judged by the criteria of the social sciences. It is argued that the explanation, namely that homosexual orientation is a function of atypical parental influences, is indeed an explanation of the kind found in the social sciences. Nevertheless, it is concluded that to date Freud's hypotheses about homosexuality are no more than unproven speculations. Also considered is the question of (...) whether the very topic of homosexuality falls or ought to fall within the domain of medical inquiry. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This Element is a philosophical history of Social Darwinism. It begins by discussing the meaning of the term, moving then to its origins, paying particular attention to whether it is Charles Darwin or Herbert Spencer who is the true father of the idea. It gives an exposition of early thinking on the subject, covering Darwin and Spencer themselves and then on to Social Darwinism as found in American thought, with special emphasis on Andrew Carnegie, and Germany with special emphasis on (...) Friedrich von Bernhardi. Attention is also paid to outliers, notably the Englishman Alfred Russel Wallace, the Russian Peter Kropotkin, and the German Friedrich Nietzsche. From here we move into the twentieth century looking at Adolf Hitler - hardly a regular Social Darwinian given he did not believe in evolution - and in the Anglophone world, Julian Huxley and Edward O. Wilson, who reflected the concerns of their society. (shrink)
Does human life have meaning? Ever since Darwin, there has been great skepticism about whether a "meaning of life" was possible outside of religious belief. Is it possible to find meaning in human life? Philosopher of science Michael Ruse examines the question of meaning in life within Darwinian views of human nature. He argues that meaning in the Darwinian age can be found if we turn to a kind of Darwinian existentialism, seeing our evolved human nature as the source of (...) all meaning, both in the intellectual and social worlds. (shrink)
Why do we think ourselves superior to all other animals? Are we right to think so? In this book, Michael Ruse explores these questions in religion, science and philosophy. Some people think that the world is an organism - and that humans, as its highest part, have a natural value. Others think that the world is a machine - and that we therefore have responsibility for making our own value judgements. Ruse provides a compelling analysis of these two rival views (...) and the age-old conflict between them. In a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, he draws on Darwinism and existentialism to argue that only the view that the world is a machine does justice to our humanity. This new series offers short and personal perspectives by expert thinkers on topics that we all encounter in our everyday lives. (shrink)
A brief, accessible history of the idea of purpose in Western thought, from ancient Greece to the present Can we live without the idea of purpose? Should we even try to? Kant thought we were stuck with purpose, and even Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which profoundly shook the idea, was unable to kill it. Indeed, teleological explanation—what Aristotle called understanding in terms of “final causes”—seems to be making a comeback today, as both religious proponents of intelligent design and some (...) prominent secular philosophers argue that any explanation of life without the idea of purpose is missing something essential. In On Purpose, Michael Ruse explores the history of the idea of purpose in philosophical, religious, scientific, and historical thought, from ancient Greece to the present. Accessibly written and filled with literary and other examples, the book examines “purpose” thinking in the natural and human world. It shows how three ideas about purpose have been at the heart of Western thought for more than two thousand years. In the Platonic view, purpose results from the planning of a human or divine being; in the Aristotelian, purpose stems from a tendency or principle of order in the natural world; and in the Kantian, purpose is essentially heuristic, or something to be discovered, an idea given substance by Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection. On Purpose traces the profound and fascinating implications of these ways of thinking about purpose. Along the way, it takes up tough questions about the purpose of life and whether it’s possible to have meaning without purpose, revealing that purpose is still a vital and pressing issue. (shrink)
The definitive work on the philosophical nature and impact of the theories of Charles Darwin, written by a well-known authority on the history and philosophy of Darwinism. Broadly explores the theories of Charles Darwin and Darwin studies Incorporates much information about modern Biology Offers a comprehensive discussion of Darwinism and Christianity – including Creationism – by one of the leading authorities in the field Written in clear, concise, user-friendly language supplemented with quality illustrations Examines the status of evolutionary theory as (...) a genuine theory and its implications for philosophy, epistemology and ethics Provides a strong understanding of the philosophical nature and impact of Darwin's thought Holds wide appeal for general audiences outside the world of academic philosophy Strongly supports Darwinism and fully explores modern naturalistic explanations of religion. (shrink)
In recent years Sir Karl Popper has been turning his attention more and more towards philosophical problems arising from biology, particularly evolutionary biology. Popper suggests that perhaps neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory is better categorized as a metaphysical research program than as a scientific theory. In this paper it is argued that Popper can draw his conclusions only because he is abysmally ignorant of the current status of biological thought and that Popper's criticisms of biology are without force and his suggestions for (...) its improvement are without need. Also it is suggested that Popper's desire to see scientific theory growth as being in some sense evolutionary may have led him astray about biology. And conversely it is suggested that since his claims about biology are not well taken his analysis of theory growth may well bear reexamination. (shrink)
The philosophy of biology is one of the most exciting new areas in the field of philosophy and one that is attracting much attention from working scientists. This Companion, edited by two of the founders of the field, includes newly commissioned essays by senior scholars and up-and-coming younger scholars who collectively examine the main areas of the subject - the nature of evolutionary theory, classification, teleology and function, ecology, and the problematic relationship between biology and religion, among other topics. Up-to-date (...) and comprehensive in its coverage, this unique volume will be of interest not only to professional philosophers but also to students in the humanities and researchers in the life sciences and related areas of inquiry. (shrink)
There is a widespread assumption that the universe in general, and life in particular, is 'getting more complex with time'. This book brings together a wide range of experts in science, philosophy and theology and unveils their joint effort in exploring this idea. They confront essential problems behind the theory of complexity and the role of life within it: what is complexity? When does it increase, and why? Is the universe evolving towards states of ever greater complexity and diversity? If (...) so, what is the source of this universal enrichment? This book addresses those difficult questions, and offers a unique cross-disciplinary perspective on some of the most profound issues at the heart of science and philosophy. Readers will gain insights in complexity that reach deep into key areas of physics, biology, complexity science, philosophy and religion. (shrink)
Methodological naturalism is the assumption or working hypothesis that understanding nature (the physical world including humans and their thoughts and actions) can be understood in terms of unguided laws. There is no need to Suppose interventions (miracles) from outside. It does not commit one to metaphysical naturalism, the belief that there is nothing other than nature as we can see and observe it (in other words, that atheism is the right theology for the sound thinker). Recently the Intelligent Design movement (...) has been arguing against methodological naturalism, and in this project they have been joined by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. In this paper I examine Plantinga’s arguments and conclude not only that they are not well taken, but that he does no good service to his religion either. (shrink)
The history of evolutionary thought / Michael Ruse -- The origin of life / Jeffrey L. Bada and Antonio Lazcano -- Paleontology and the history of life / Michael Benton -- Adaptation / Joseph Travis and David N. Reznick -- Molecular evolution / Francisco J. Ayala -- Evolution of the genome / Brian Charlesworth and Deborah Charlesworth -- The pattern and process of speciation / Margaret B. Ptacek and Shala J. Hankison -- Evolution and development / Gregory A. Wray -- (...) Social behavior and sociobiology / Daniel J. Rubenstein -- Human evolution / Henry M. McHenry -- Evolutionary biology of disease and Darwinian medicine / Michael F. Antolin -- Beyond the Darwinian paradigm : understanding biological forms / Brian Goodwin -- Philosophy of evolutionary thought / Kim Sterelny -- Evolution and society / Manfred D. Laubichler and Jane Maienschein -- Evolution and religion / David N. Livingstone -- American antievolutionism : retrospect and prospect / Eugenie C. Scott. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: Epistemology after Darwin -- Part II: Ethics after Darwin -- Part III: The evolution of ideas -- Part IV: The evolution of rationality -- - Part V: Ethics and progress -- Part VI: The evolution of altruism.
There are two main senses of ‘mechanism’, both deriving from the metaphor of nature as a machine. One sense refers to contrivance or design, as in ‘the plant’s mechanism of attracting butterflies’. The other sense refers to cause or law process, as in ‘the mechanism of heredity’. In his work on evolution, Charles Darwin showed that organisms are produced by a mechanism in the second sense, although he never used this language. He also discussed contrivance, where he did use the (...) language of mechanism. This discussion relates metaphor in general and Darwin’s use of the machine metaphor in particular to the problem of the nature of science, concluding that one use of the metaphor reinforces the objective nature of science and the other use reinforces the subjective nature of science. (shrink)