In this controversial new book O'Hear takes a stand against the fashion for explaining human behavior in terms of evolution. He contends that while the theory of evolution is successful in explaining the development of the natural world in general, it is of limited value when applied to the human world. Because of our reflectiveness and our rationality we take on goals and ideals which cannot be justified in terms of survival-promotion or reproductive advantage. O'Hear examines (...) the nature of human self-consciousness, and argues that evolutionary theory cannot give a satisfactory account of such distinctive facets of human life as the quest for knowledge, moral sense, and the appreciation of beauty; in these we transcend our biological origins. It is our rationality that allows each of us to go beyond not only our biological but also our cultural inheritance: as the author says in the Preface, "we are prisoners neither of our genes nor of the ideas we encounter as we each make our personal and individual way through life.". (shrink)
Humanevolution explains how we have found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Issues of modern living; depression, obesity, and environmental destruction, can be understood in relation to our evolutionary past. This book shows how an awareness of this past and its relation to the present can help limit their impact on the future.
Human Nature After Darwin is an original investigation of the implications of Darwinism for our understanding of ourselves and our situation. It casts new light on current Darwinian controversies, and in doing so provides an introduction to philosophical reasoning and a range of philosophical problems. Janet Radcliffe Richards claims that many current battles about Darwinism, in particular about evolutionary psychology and religion, are based on mistaken assumptions about the implications of the rival views. Her analysis of these implications provides (...) a much-needed guide to the fundamentals of Darwinism and the so-called Darwin-wars, as well as providing a set of philosophical techniques relevant to wide areas of moral and political debate. It also raises philosophical problems of knowledge and certainly, free will and responsibility, altruism, the status of ethics, and the relevance of Darwinism to questions of ethics, politics and religion. The lucid presentation makes the book an ideal introduction to both philosophy and Darwinism, as well as a substantive contribution to topics of intense current controversy. It will be of interest to students of philosophy, science and the social sciences, and critical thinking. (shrink)
Controlled fire use by early humans could have facilitated the evolution of human cooperation. Individuals with regular access to the benefits of domestic fire would have been at an advantage over those with limited or no access. However, a campfire would have been relatively costly for an individual to maintain and open to free riders. By cooperating, individuals could have reduced maintenance costs, minimized free riding and lessened the risk of being without fire. Cooperators were more likely to (...) survive and reproduce than uncooperative individuals because the former would have been better able to maximize a fire’s returns and enjoy regular access to its benefits. This is how the emergence of controlled fire use in Pleistocene human populations could have facilitated the evolution of cooperation. (shrink)
Contrary to chimpanzees and bonobos, humans display long-term exclusive relationships between males and females. Probably all human cultures have some kind of marriage system, apparently designed to protect these exclusive relationships and the resulting offspring in a potentially sexual competitive environment. Different hypotheses about the origin of human pair-bonds are compared and it is shown how they may refer to different phases of humanevolution.
There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of genetic engineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting genetic engineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how genetic engineering differs from other contemporary biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We (...) go on to consider the implications of genetic engineering for human nature, humanevolution, and persistence of the human species. Finally, we question whether genetic interventions warrant the extraordinary ethical scrutiny they are often given, and we show how the misleading “genetic blueprint” metaphor has imposed a faulty structure on the enhancement debate. We conclude by considering the nature of biological development and the sobering limits it places on what genetic engineering can reasonably hope to achieve. (shrink)
This is a review article of Charles Beitz's 2009 book on the philosophy of human rights, The Idea of Human Rights. The article provides a charitable overview of the book's main arguments, but also raises some doubts about the depth of the distinction between Beitz's 'practical' approach to humans rights and its 'naturalistic' counterparts.
One way to understand science is as a selection process. David Hull, one of the dominant figures in contemporary philosophy of science, sets out in this volume a general analysis of this selection process that applies equally to biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, operant learning, and social and conceptual change in science. Hull aims to distinguish between those characteristics that are contingent features of selection and those that are essential. Science and Selection brings (...) together many of David Hull's most important essays on selection (some never before published) in one accessible volume. (shrink)
Research from ethology and evolutionary biology indicates the following about the evolution of reasoning capacity. First, solving problems of social competition and cooperation have direct impact on survival rates and reproductive success. Second, the social structure that evolved from this pressure is the dominance hierarchy. Third, primates that live in large groups with complex dominance hierarchies also show greater neocortical development, and concomitantly greater cognitive capacity. These facts suggest that the necessity of reasoning effectively about dominance hierarchies left an (...) indelible mark on primate reasoning architectures, including that of humans. In order to survive in a dominance hierarchy, an individual must be capable of (a) making rank discriminations, (b) recognizing what is forbidden and what is permitted based one's rank, and (c) deciding whether to engage in or refriin from activities that will allow one to move up in rank. The first problem is closely tied to the capacity for transitive reasoning, while the second and third are intimately related to the capacity for deontic reasoning. I argue that the human capacity for these types of reasoning have evolutionary roots that reach deeper into our ancestral past than the emergence of the hominid line, and the operation of these evolutionarily primitive reasoning systems can be seen in the development of human reasoning and domain-specific effects in adult reasoning. (shrink)
Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor explores the German philosopher's response to the intellectual debates sparked by the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. By examining the abundance of biological metaphors in Nietzsche's writings, Gregory Moore questions his recent reputation as an eminently subversive and (post) modern thinker, and shows how deeply Nietzsche was immersed in late nineteenth-century debates on evolution, degeneration and race. The first part of the book provides a detailed study and new interpretation of Nietzsche's much disputed (...) relationship to Darwinism. Uniquely, Moore also considers the importance of Nietzsche's evolutionary perspective for the development of his moral and aesthetic philosophy. The second part analyzes key themes of Nietzsche's cultural criticism - his attack on the Judaeo-Christian tradition, his diagnosis of the nihilistic crisis afflicting modernity and his anti-Wagnerian polemics - against the background of fin-de-siècle fears about the imminent biological collapse of Western civilization. (shrink)
The main problem discussed in this paper is: Why and how did animal cognition abilities arise? It is argued that investigations of the evolution of animal cognition abilities are very important from an epistemological point of view. A new direction for interdisciplinary researches – the creation and development of the theory of human logic origin – is proposed. The approaches to the origination of such a theory (mathematical models of ``intelligent invention'' of biological evolution, the cybernetic schemes (...) of evolutionary progress and purposeful adaptive behavior) as well as potential interdisciplinary links of the theory are described and analyzed. (shrink)
I teach Philosophy of Science at a four-year state university located in the southeastern United States with a strong college of education. This means that the Philosophy of Science class I teach attracts large numbers of students who will later become science teachers in Georgia junior high and high schools—the same schools that recently began including evolution "warning" stickers in science textbooks. I am also a faculty member in a department combining Religious Studies and Philosophy. This (...) means Philosophy of Science is often expected to provide dialogue, debate, and bridge-building on the issues of creationism and evolution. I am expected to provide a welcoming atmosphere to all the religious perspectives that the students bring to class, but at the same time I feel responsible for giving them a serious respect for evolution. This tension between religious tolerance and secular science education has had important consequences in American schools, most notably with the issue of Intelligent Design Theory (ID) in the classroom. (shrink)
Censorship in the area of public health has become increasingly important in many parts of the world for a number of reasons. Groups with vested interest in public health policy are motivated to censor material. As governments, corporations, and organizations champion competing visions of public health issues, the more incentive there may be to censor. This is true in a number of circumstances: curtailing access to information regarding the health and welfare of soldiers in the Kuwait and Iraq wars, poor (...) health conditions in Aboriginal communities, downplaying epidemics to bolster economies, and so forth. This paper will look at the use of a computer worm (the benevolent health worm) to disseminate vital information in␣situations where public health is threatened by government censorship and where there is great risk for those who ‹speak out’. The discussion of the benevolent health worm is focused on the Peoples’ Republic of China (China) drawing on three public health crises: HIV/AIDS, SARS and Avian Influenza. Ethical issues are examined first in a general fashion and then in a specific manner which uses the duty-based moral philosophy of Confucianism and a Western human rights-based analysis. Technical, political and legal issues will also be examined to the extent that they better inform the ethical debate. (shrink)
In a critical review of late twentieth-century gene-culture co-evolutionary models labelled as ‘global phylogeny’, the authors present evidence for the long legacy of co-evolutionary theories in European-based thinking, highlighting that (1) ideas of social and cultural evolution preceded the idea of biological evolution, (2) linguistics played a dominant role in the formation of a unified theory of human co-evolution, and (3) that co-evolutionary thinking was only possible due to perpetuated and renewed transdisciplinary reticulations between scholars of (...) different disciplines—especially within the integrative framework of the ‘humanid’ and the ‘hominid’ branches of anthropology. (shrink)
Introduction -- Defending a socio-biological account of morality -- Non-objectivist evolutionary ethics -- Recent objectivist approaches to evolutionary ethics -- Sketch of an Aristotelian evolutionary ethics -- Evolutionary biology and the moral status of animals -- Faith, reason, and evolutionary epistemology -- Psychological egoism and evolutionary biology -- Evolution and free will : darwinian non-naturalism defended -- Recent developments in philosophy of evolution.
This history of human origin studies covers a wide range of disciplines. This important new study analyses a number of key episodes from palaeolithic archaeology, palaeoanthropology, primatology and evolutionary theory in terms of various ideas on how one should go about such reconstructions and what, if any, the uses of such historiographical exercises can be for current research in these disciplines. Their carefully argued point is that studying the history of palaeoanthropological thinking about the past can enhance the quality (...) of current research on human origins. The main issues in the present volume are the uses of disciplinary history in terms of present-day research concerns, the relative weight of cultural and other 'external' contexts, and continuity and change in theoretical perspectives. The book's overall approach is an epistemological one. It does not, in other words, primarily address anthropological data as such, but our ways of handling such data in terms of our most fundamental, but usually quite implicit theoretical presuppositions. (shrink)
Part 1. Lecture 1. What is big history? ; Lecture 2. Moving across multiple scales ; Lecture 3. Simplicity and complexity ; Lecture 4. Evidence and the nature of science ; Lecture 5. Threshold 1, Origins of Big Bang cosmology ; Lecture 6. How did everything begin? ; Lecture 7. Threshold 2, The first stars and galaxies ; Lecture 8. Threshold 3, Making chemical elements ; Lecture 9. Threshold 4, The earth and the solar system ; Lecture 10. The early (...) earth, a short history ; Lecture 11. Plate tectonics and the earth's geography ; Lecture 12. Threshold 5, Life -- Part 2. Lecture 13. Darwin and natural selection ; Lecture 14. The evidence for natural selection ; Lecture 15. The origins of life ; Lecture 16. Life on earth, single-celled organisms ; Lecture 17. Life on earth, multi-celled organisms ; Lecture 18. Hominines ; Lecture 19. Evidence on hominine evolution ; Lecture 20. Threshold 6, What makes humans different? ; Lecture 21. Homo sapiens, the first humans ; Lecture 22. Paleolithic lifeways ; Lecture 23. Change in the Paleolithic Era ; Lecture 24. Threshold 7, agriculture -- Part 3. Lecture 25. The origins of agriculture ; Lecture 26. The first agrarian societies ; Lecture 27. Power and its origins ; Lecture 28. Early power structures ; Lecture 29. From villages to cities ; Lecture 30. Sumer, the first agrarian civilization ; Lecture 31. Agrarian civilizations in other regions ; Lecture 32. The world that agrarian civilizations made ; Lecture 33. Long trends, expansion and state power ; Lecture 34. Long trends, rates of innovation ; Lecture 35. Long trends, disease and Malthusian cycles ; Lecture 36. Comparing the world zones -- Part 4. Lecture 37. The Americas in the later Agrarian Era ; Lecture 38. Threshold 8, the modern revolution ; Lecture 39. The Medieval Malthusian Cycle, 500-1350 ; Lecture 40. The Early Modern Cycle, 1350-1700 ; Lecture 41. Breakthrough, the Industrial Revolution ; Lecture 42. Spread of the Industrial Revolution to 1900 ; Lecture 43. The 20th century ; Lecture 44. The world that the modern revolution made ; Lecture 45. Human history and the biosphere ; Lecture 46. The next 100 years ; Lecture 47. The next millennium and the remote future ; Lecture 48. Big history, humans in the cosmos. (shrink)
Introduction -- Landscape and longing -- Art and human nature -- What is art? -- But they don't have our concept of art -- Art and natural selection -- The uses of fiction -- Art and human self-domestication -- Intention, forgery, dada : three aesthetic problems -- The contingency of aesthetic values -- Greatness in the arts.
Philosophical anthropology is concerned with assumptions about human nature, differential psychology with the empirical investigation of such belief systems. A questionnaire composed of 64 questions concerning brain and consciousness, free will, evolution, meaning of life, belief in God, and theodicy problem was used to gather data from 563 students of psychology at seven universities and from 233 students enrolled in philosophy or the natural sciences. Essential concepts were monism–dualism–complementarity, atheism–agnosticism–deism–theism, attitude toward transcendence–immanence, and self-ratings of religiosity and (...) interest in meaning of life. The response profiles (Menschenbild) of women and men, and of psychology students in the first and midterm of study were very similar. The method of statistical twins indicated a number of differences between students of psychology, philosophy, and the natural sciences. The majority of respondents were convinced that philosophical preconceptions on mind–body and free will have important practical implications for the way in which psychotherapists, physicians, or and judges exercise their professions. (shrink)
In contrast to many other models of humanevolution the "balance of power" theory of Alexander has a clear answer to the question why a runaway selection process for unique social and moral capacities occurred in our ancestry only and not in other species: "ecological dominance" is hypothesized to have diminished the effects of "extrinsic" forces of natural selection such that within-species, intergroup competition increased (Alexander, 1989). Alexander seems to be wrong, however, in his claim that already the (...) common HUCHIBO (Humans, Chimps, Bonobo's)-ancestor has crossed the ecological dominance barrier. In this paper an adapted version of Alexander's model is presented and several different ways are proposed to make this adapted version testable. A preliminary survey of the available paleontological and paleoecological data suggests that there is some evidence of a less vulnerable position towards predators in early Homo and that there are clear signs related to a crossing of the ecological dominance barrier in Homo sapiens sapiens. (shrink)
The concept of preadaptation, though useful, continues to trouble evolutionary scientists. Usually, it is treated as if it were really adaptation, prompting such diverse theorists as Gould and Vrba, and Dennett to suggest its removal from evolutionary theory altogether. In this paper, I argue that the as-if sense is ill-founded, and that the sense of preadaptation as a process may be defended as unequivocal and generally useful in evolutionary explanations, even in such problem areas as humanevolution.
Evolutionary thinking has expanded in the last decades, spreading from its traditional stronghold - the explanation of speciation and adaptation in Biology - to new domains including the human sciences. The essays in this collection attest to the illuminating power of evolutionary thinking when applied to the understanding of the human mind. The contributors to Cognition, Evolution and Rationality use an evolutionary standpoint to approach the nature of the human mind, including both cognitive and behavioral functions. (...) Cognitive science is by its nature an interdisciplinary subject and the essays use a variety of disciplines including the Philosophy of Science, the Philosophy of Mind, Game Theory, Robotics and Computational Neuroanatomy to investigate the workings of the mind. The topics covered by the essays range from general methodological issues to long-standing philosophical problems such as how rational human beings actually are. This book will be of interest across a number of fields, including philosophy, evolutionary theory and cognitive science. (shrink)