Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy

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Overview

First published a decade ago, Michael Ruse's Taking Darwin Seriously established itself as one of the most important works on evolutionary naturalism since Darwin's own Origin of Species in 1859. Updated with a new preface and final chapter, this timely volume challenges the threadworn arguments as well as the new claims of creationism seeping into mainstream education, science, and philosophy, and reestablishes solid arguments supporting the science of Charles Darwin.

Applying evolutionary biology to traditional philosophical problems, this volume establishes a naturalistic approach to our understanding of life's major problems. Ruse argues thoughtfully that to understand the problems of knowledge (epistemology) and of moral thought and behavior (ethics), we must know that we are the end-products of the natural process of evolution rather than the special creation of a supernatural god. At the same time, he warns evolutionists who would fashion an atheistic secular religion from their science.

Written in an easy style to interest the professional and the general reader, this book is a pillar of philosophy intended as a direct challenge to all those who would push creationism as a credible alternative to scientific evolution in public schools, universities, and as a general theory of public consumption.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canadian historian-philosopher Ruse (Darwinism Defended and The Darwinian Revolution was an expert witness for the ACLU in the 1981 Arkansas trial which cast out ``creation science'' from that state's public school curriculum. Here, in a densely argued book, he brings together traditional philosophy, notably David Hume's distinction between ``is'' and ``ought,'' and modern sociobiology in what philosophically concerned readers will find is a long overdue development of ``Darwinism'' as it stems from evolutionary theory with an emphasis on natural selection. Ruse examines the biology of the evolutionary process that led to homo sapiens, taking him directly into evolutionary epistemology and, most importantly, a searching inquiry into an evolutionary ethics which, he shows, has grown out of our culture as both language and culture are roooted in biology and a ``subjectivistic'' human nature. Significantly, while Ruse's ideas are not new, his trenchant exploration of a Darwinian ethics that gives a new meaning to natural selection will have to be taken seriously by students of the subject. Photos. (June 3)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573922425
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 323
  • Sales rank: 1,160,535
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Ruse (Tallahassee, FL) is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University and the author or editor of The Stem Cell Controversy; Cloning: Responsible Science or Technomadness?; Taking Darwin Seriously; Philosophy of Biology; and But Is It Science?, among many other works.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface
1 The Biological Background 1
The fact of evolution 1
The path of evolution 4
The theory of evolution: natural selection 16
The theory of evolution: modern genetics 18
Good science? 20
2 Evolutionary Epistemology 29
Evolution as analogy 31
Herbert Spencer and the law of progress 37
Stephen Toulmin's Darwinian model 45
The analogy considered: the fact of evolution 46
The analogy considered: the path of evolution 49
The analogy considered: the cause of evolution 53
Donald Campbell's Darwinian variations 58
Karl Popper and the revision of Darwinism 61
3 Evolutionary Ethics 67
Moral issues 68
Evolution and ethics 71
Herbert Spencer and the moral value of progress 73
Spencerian problems 75
William Graham Sumner and Social Darwinism 78
Thomas Henry Huxley and his stand against nature 82
Hume's law and the naturalistic fallacy 86
Is the natural innately good? 90
Edward O. Wilson and the foundations of morality 93
The evolution of the moral sense 99
4 Human Evolution 103
The fact of human evolution 104
The path of human evolution 109
The cause of human evolution 115
The problem of culture 123
The biology of language 126
Ape language 134
Is culture independent of biology? 140
Epigenetic rules 143
5 Darwinian Epistemology 148
The nature of science 149
Scientific reasoning 155
The case for a biological backing 160
The case for (continued) 164
The case against 168
The rivals to science 174
Philosophical precursor: Kant? 178
Philosophical precursor: Hume? 182
Common-sense realism 184
Metaphysical scepticism 192
Konrad Lorenz and the biological a priori 196
The ultimate foundations 199
6 Darwinian Ethics 207
Substantive ethics 208
Meta-ethics 213
The evolution of morality 217
The empirical evidence: social animals 223
The empirical evidence: chimpanzees 227
The empirical evidence: humans 230
Substantive ethics reconsidered: utilitarianism 235
My family and other animals 238
To give and not to count the cost 242
Substantive ethics reconsidered: Kantianism 244
Moral disagreements 247
Darwinian meta-ethics 250
Objectifying morality 252
Stepping around Hume's law 256
Freedom of choice 258
Possible precursor: Kant? 262
Possible precursor: Hume? 266
Looking forward 269
Darwin's New Critics on Trial 280
References 298
Index 316
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