Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction

By Janet Radcliffe Richards | Go to book overview

Notes
1
I shall use 'materialism' throughout to refer to the metaphysical view that the most fundamental entities in the universe are material (non-conscious), and that mind is dependent on matter in the sense that if all matter disappeared, so would all mind. This is not the only meaning of 'materialism' used by philosophers, but it is the one I shall keep to here.
2
This argument may seem to support Popper's falsification thesis. But that thesis depends on an asymmetry between confirmation and falsification; and in this argument, the two necessarily go together. The reason for being confident that Ptolemy's account is false is the discovery that incompatible beliefs are certainly true.
3
See, for example, Ferris (1997), Chapter 7 and Deutsch (1997), Chapter 14.
4
See Nesse and Williams (1995).
5
Terms originally intended as abusive often become established as neutral, as in the cases of 'baroque', 'rococo' and 'impressionist'.
6
A substance, philosophically speaking, is something that does not depend on other things for its existence.
7
Social Darwinism is, roughly, the idea that everyone is naturally in competition and we should encourage the course of evolution by letting the weak go to the wall, thus helping to ensure the survival of the fittest. This is discussed further in Chapter 9 (pp. 221-2).
8
The naturalistic fallacy involves deducing conclusions about the way things ought to be from the way they are: deducing 'ought' from 'is'. This is discussed further in Chapter 9 (pp. 242ff.).
9
In Glover (1984).
10
See, for example, H. A. Orr, 'Darwin v. Intelligent Design (Again)', Boston Review, December/January 1996-97.
11
Notice, however, that if the antecedent were true and the consequent false that would show the conditional to be false.
12
This must not be confused with the quite different claim that everything we want to say could in principle be translated without loss into claims about matter.
13
The appearance given by many of the exercises in this book that their author is obsessed by animal rights, the devastation of landscapes and - perhaps more surprisingly - boxing, is another of the book's design fossils (see Introduction). In its original form and context the book followed three others, dealing with political freedom (with a case study of freedom to harm yourself, as in boxing), animals, and environmental ethics. The exercises could have been changed, but Darwinians are rather fond of design fossils.
14
It would be more accurate to say that she needed to investigate the same consequents, in the expectation that the new antecedent would make the conditionals false. But it is slightly easier, and not too inaccurate, to do it this way.
15
It is perhaps worth mentioning that there are various kinds of problem. One is a philosophical problem of what grounds there are for thinking that uncaused events do not exist. It is no good arguing that they could not possibly exist because there is nothing to produce them, because that begs the question. There are also problems about how we would recognize them if they did occur, since it is not clear how we would distinguish them from caused or determined events.
16
Or, more accurately, 'It is not the case that the world is a disc supported by four elephants', and in some contexts the accuracy is important. But the simpler version will do for our purposes here, since it is only an illustration.
17
Compare this with the earlier discussion of science. Scientists usually regard themselves as conducting investigations to discover the truth about the world, and have debates and disagreements about whether some theory is true or not. But if they do this, they are presupposing that there is such a thing as scientific truth to be found.

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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
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