Threats to our only science of life: evolution and the battles over meaning
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Robert C. Brooks, 2012. "Threats to our only science of life: evolution and the battles over meaning", Science Under Siege: Zoology Under Threat, Peter Banks, Daniel Lunney, Chris Dickman
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The theory of evolution by natural selection is the central organising principle of all science of life and, according to Daniel Dennet, it is “the most important idea anyone ever had”. Yet its broader significance in understanding human affairs is threatened by attacks from the right by religious fundamentalists and from the left by postmodernists, post-structuralists and others invested in the standard model of social sciences that emphasises culture as distinct from the biological substrate of minds and bodies. Evolution also faces threats from within when biologists themselves concede the study of human behaviour and meaning entirely to the social sciences and humanities or, more rarely, to religion. I argue that the attacks from the right and the left echo the same concerns; that evolution challenges the specialness of humans (it does), and that a naturalist world view endorses or exonerates bad behaviour (it mostly does not).