Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction

By Janet Radcliffe Richards | Go to book overview

Revision questions
Answers on pp. 299-303.Chapter 1
1 Which of these traditional ideas about ourselves and the universe were changed by the Copernican/Newtonian revolution?
(a) The universe is enclosed and finite.
(b) We are in a physical situation that reflects our position in the great chain of being, just below the angels.
(c) We are partly material and partly spiritual.
(d) The heavens and earth are of radically different kinds of substance.
(e) The soul is distinct from the body.
(f) The soul is superior to the body.
(g) Mind must underlie all existence and order (the Mind First view).
2 What does Dennett mean by explanations involving cranes and skyhooks? Why are these terms useful in explaining the difference between Darwinian and traditional kinds of explanation?
3 What does Dennett mean by his claim that Darwinism is a universal acid?
4 What is a teleological explanation? Give a non-teleological and a teleological explanation of some event, for instance, the slamming of a door.
5 Which of the following explanations are (as they stand) teleological?
(a) The accident happened because his neighbour had cut through the brake cables of his car.
(b) He cut through the brake cables because he wanted to kill his neighbour.
(c) The brakes failed because he had not bothered to have the car serviced.
(d) People got the idea of flight by watching birds and insects.
(e) He spent his life working on aeroplane designs because he envied the birds their ability to fly.
(f) I expect I shall go out this afternoon; the children will nag me until I do.
(g) I expect I shall decide to go out; I do want to hear that lecture.
(h) Parsifal is wonderful, so we shall certainly go to see the new production.
(i) He was driven out of the house by his hostile neighbours.
(j) His neighbours drove him out because they didn't like him.
(k) He went because he didn't feel he could contend any longer with his hostile neighbours.

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