The publication in 1975 of Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology provoked a great controversy, for in that work Wilson claimed that ethics was rooted in human biology. On the first page of the book, he asserted that our deepest intuitions of right and wrong are guided by the emotional control centers of the brain, which evolved via natural selection to help the human animal exploit opportunities and avoid threats in the natural environment. In 1998, the publication of Wilson's Consilience renewed the (...) controversy, as he continued to argue for explaining ethics through the biology of the moral sentiments.Footnotes* I am grateful to the Earhart Foundation for a research grant that supported the writing of this essay. (shrink)
The psychology of ownership is rooted in self-ownership. The human brain has an evolved interoceptive sense of owning the body that supports self-ownership and the ownership of external things as extensions of the self-owning self. In this way, evolutionary neuroscience supports a Lockean liberal conception of equal natural rights rooted in natural self-ownership.
Responding to volatile criticisms frequently leveled at Leo Strauss and those he influenced, the prominent contributors to this volume demonstrate the profound influence that Strauss and his students have exerted on American liberal democracy and contemporary political thought. By stressing the enduring vitality of classic books and by articulating the theoretical and practical flaws of relativism and historicism, the contributors argue that Strauss and the Straussians have identified fundamental crises of modernity and liberal democracy.
Unlike physics and chemistry, the behavioral sciences are historical sciences that explain the fuzzy complexity of social life through historical narratives. Unifying the behavioral sciences through evolutionary game theory would require a nested hierarchy of three kinds of historical narratives: natural history, cultural history, and biographical history. (Published Online April 27 2007).
There has been a resurgence of Darwinian naturalism in political theory, as manifested in the recent work of political scientists such as Roger D. Masters, Robert J. McShea, and James Q. Wilson. They belong to an intellectual tradition that includes not only Charles Darwin but also Aristotle and David Hume. Although most political scientists believe Darwinian social theory has been refuted, their objections rest on three false dichotomies: facts versus values, nature versus freedom, and nature versus nurture. Rejecting these dichotomies (...) would allow the social sciences to be linked to the natural sciences through Darwinian biology. (shrink)