Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction

By Janet Radcliffe Richards | Go to book overview

9

Onwards and upwards

This chapter and the next are about the idea that the further you go into Darwinism, the more you risk losing in the way of cherished hopes and ideals. This chapter is about the question as it arises on the evolutionary psychology boundary; the materialist boundary is discussed in the next.

It is widely believed that evolutionary psychology, in seeing our characteristics as deep in our genetic makeup, provides a justification for political and social attitudes of a conservative kind. The chapter analyses this assumption, once again taking sex and traditional attitudes to women as an illustration, and once again concluding that the assumption is mistaken. Although the difference between the gene-machine and blank-paper views may have some implications for the details of aims and methods, broader political and social ideals are not affected.

The first part of the chapter is concerned largely with the recapitulation and development of philosophical techniques introduced earlier in the book: practical decision making against uncertainty, disentangling claims about people from claims about issues, and applying the use of argument structures to the analysis of texts. The broader discussion of evolutionary psychology and political ideals comes in the second half of the chapter ('Ethics and the natural order'), where it is argued that claims about the poltical implications of evolutionary psychology depend on importing into Darwinian materialism presuppositions drawn from traditional, incompatible views of the world.


Introduction

So far in this book the arguments seem to have shown that far less than is often thought turns on the question of which degree of Darwinism is closest to the truth. The differences between them seem to have no significant implications for our understanding of our capacity for freedom and responsibility, or altruism and the possibility of moral progress.

In this chapter, however, we come to questions that go beyond what to think about ourselves, to questions that are more directly concerned with what we do and how we lead our lives. And here there must be various questions whose answers depend on what the truth about the world is.These different degrees of Darwinism give different accounts of what the world is like; and since getting through life and achieving our aims is a matter of (broadly speaking) manipulating the world, what we believe about the way the world works potentially affects everything we aspire to and everything we do.

This may suggest that there is no longer any point in analysing conditionals. It is pointless to tell people that if this view of the world is true they should act one way in their efforts to pursue their aims, but if that one is true they should do something else. They want to know what to do, and for this it seems essential to go beyond the conditionals and look at the evidence.

-212-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 316

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.