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The Natural Selection of Autonomy
     

The Natural Selection of Autonomy

by Bruce N. Waller
 

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Challenges the deep traditional assumption that autonomy, morality, and moral responsibility are uniquely human characteristics.

The Natural Selection of Autonomy challenges the deep traditional assumption that autonomy, morality, and moral responsibility are uniquely human characteristics. By examining autonomy on a larger scale in the natural world, it

Overview

Challenges the deep traditional assumption that autonomy, morality, and moral responsibility are uniquely human characteristics.

The Natural Selection of Autonomy challenges the deep traditional assumption that autonomy, morality, and moral responsibility are uniquely human characteristics. By examining autonomy on a larger scale in the natural world, it clears away the mysteries associated with autonomy claims and shows what is valuable and adaptive (for humans and other animals) in genuine open alternatives—and how human reason strengthens, rather than creates, autonomous behavior.

Drawing on recent research in biology, psychology, and philosophy, The Natural Selection of Autonomy attacks widely shared and deeply held beliefs that have passed from the historical pre-Darwinian philosophical tradition into contemporary thought, and offers a clear look at the evolution of autonomous moral behavior among many species, including—but not limited to—human animals.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book is a joy to read—jargon-free, cogently argued.” — Mark Bernstein, University of Texas, San Antonio

“Waller writes with a simplicity and grace of style which both engages the reader and illuminates the steps in the argument. The overall position defended concerning the nature of freedom/autonomy and its connection, or lack thereof, with moral responsibility is both novel and inventive. The book is remarkably creative. In part this is because it is iconoclastic, critically confronting regnant opinions. But more creatively, it offers a synoptic position—a nuanced view—with many of its presuppositions and ramifications.” — George Graham, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Booknews
The downward spiral of human-centeredness has caused thinkers to champion free will and morality as the last separation between man and the animals, or argue that we live in a completely mechanistic Skinnerite universe in which there is no real higher ethics. This book contends that in fact there is morality and free will, but that we share those traits with the other inhabitants of the natural world. He develops this idea from a Darwinian perspective and applies it towards the creation of new ethics that is neither rationally derived nor existentially chosen, but instead arises from our status as biological beings. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791438206
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
08/28/1998
Series:
SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology Series
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
5.85(w) x 8.89(h) x 0.46(d)

Meet the Author

Bruce N. Waller is Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Youngstown State University. His previous work includes Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict and Freedom Without Responsibility.

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