Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction

By Janet Radcliffe Richards | Go to book overview

3

Internecine strife

This chapter returns from general philosophical matters to questions specifically about Darwinism. Even though the central core of Darwinism can be taken as established beyond doubt, that is in itself relatively unthreatening to traditional conceptions of the kind of thing we ourselves are. The real danger comes with the possibility that Darwinian explanation might spread further, beyond the range of organic evolution.

The fundamental problem here is to find a way of presenting a complex and confused debate in a way that does not distort the issues. This chapter divides controversies about the application of Darwinism to human nature into two main kinds. The first is about whether Darwinism can give a complete account of our origins, and justify a materialist account of what we are. The other is about the extent to which a Darwinian understanding of our evolution can provide insight into the details of our character, as is claimed by researchers in the field of evolutionary psychology (sociobiology). These controversies within Darwinism seem to have further-reaching implications for our view of ourselves than the controversy about whether the theory is true at all, and are the ones about which public debate is most passionate. The chapter outlines these debates, and in particular explains what evolutionary psychologists take their subject to be about.

However, it also argues that there is no possibility of resolving these debates here, and that for the purposes of this enquiry the question of which view is right will have to be left open.


A spectrum of Darwinism

The previous chapter claimed that the core Darwinian theory of organic evolution by natural selection must now be regarded as settled beyond any reasonable doubt. That, however, does not mean that serious Darwinian controversies are at an end. There is still the question of whether Darwinian explanation can be confined to this core, or whether it really is the universal acid Dennett suspects it is; and from the point of view of understanding the implications of Darwinism, the disagreements between Darwinists themselves - the people who have crossed the Darwinian threshold, but disagree about how far to go beyond it - look far more momentous than those between Darwinists and their fundamentalist opponents.

It is of course well known - as part of the great Darwin legend - that Darwin's ideas were regarded with horror by many of his contemporaries. The biblical account of creation was widely accepted at the time as literally true; and, quite apart from anxieties about challenges to the revealed word of God, it was also shocking for refined Victorians, with their sense of natural superiority even to the lesser (human) breeds without the law, to be told that they were related to

-51-

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Theory 4
  • 2 - The Sceptics 25
  • 3 - Internecine Strife 51
  • 4 - Implications and Conditionals 87
  • 5 - Biology as Destiny 100
  • 6 - Blameless Puppets 126
  • 7 - Selfish Genes and Moral Animals 154
  • 8 - The End of Ethics 184
  • 9 - Onwards and Upwards 212
  • 10 - The Real Differences 259
  • Notes 271
  • Answers to Exercises 273
  • Revision Questions 288
  • Answers to Revision Questions 299
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 304
  • Bibliography 307
  • Index 309
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
/ 316

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    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

    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.