David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (3):627-633 (2012)
In Darwin’s Sacred Cause, Adrian Desmond and James Moore contend that ‘‘Darwin would put his utmost into sexual selection because the subject intrigued him, no doubt, but also for a deeper reason: the theory vindicated his lifelong commitment to human brotherhood’’ (2009: p. 360). Without questioning Des- mond and Moore’s evidence, I will raise some puzzles for their view. I will show that attention to the structure of Darwin’s arguments in the Descent of Man shows that they are far from straightforward. As Desmond and Moore note, Darwin seems to have intended sexual selection in non-human animals to serve as evidence for sexual selection in humans. However, Darwin’s account of sexual selection in humans was different from the canonical cases that Darwin described at great length. If explaining the origin of human races was the main reason for introducing sexual selection, and if sexual selection was a key piece of Darwin’s anti-slavery arguments, then it is puzzling why Darwin would have spent so much time discussing cases that did not really support his argument for the origin of human races, and it is also puzzling that his argument for the origin of human races would be so (atypically) poor.
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References found in this work BETA
Erika Milam, Roberta L. Millstein, Angela Potochnik & Joan Roughgarden (2011). Sex and Sensibility: The Role of Social Selection. Metascience 20 (2):253-277.
Joel S. Schwartz (1984). Darwin, Wallace, and the "Descent of Man". Journal of the History of Biology 17 (2):271 - 289.
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