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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).

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Daly, M., and M. Wilson. 1988. Homicide. Hawthorne, NY., Aldine de Gruyter.
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Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. London, Bantam Press.
Dennett, D. C. 1995. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York, Simon and Schuster.
Dennett, D. C. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York, Viking.
Desmond, A. 1989. The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Desmond, A., and J. Moore. 1991. Darwin. London, Penguin.
Ecklund, E. H. 2007. Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics. Social Problems 54:289-307.
Gluckman, P., and M. Hanson. 2006. Mismatch: Why Our World No Longer Fits Our Bodies. New York, Oxford University Press.
Hauser, M. D. 2006. Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. New York, Harper Collins.
Huxley, T. H. 1863. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. London, Williams and Norgate.
Johnson, P. E. 1993. Darwin on Trial. Downers Grove, IL., InterVarsity Press.
Kroeber, A. L. 1915. Eighteen professions. American Anthropologist 17:52-59.
Mill, J. S. 1873. Autobiography. New York, P.F. Collier & Son.
Pinker, S. 2002. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York, Viking.
Rose, S. 2009. Should scientists study race and IQ? NO: Science and society do not benefit. Nature 457:786-788.
Roughgarden, J. 2004. Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People. Los Angeles, University of California Press.
Roughgarden, J., M. Oishi, and E. Akçay. 2006. Reproductive social behavior: Cooperative games to replace sexual selection. Science 311:965-969.
Ruse, M. 1998. Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books.
Segerstråle, U. 2000. Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Wilkins, J. F. 2005. Genomic imprinting and methylation: epigenetic canalization and conflict. Trends in Genetics 21:356-365.
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Cosans, C. 2009. Owen's Ape and Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and Creationism. Bloomington, IN., Indiana University Press.
Daly, M., and M. Wilson. 1988. Homicide. Hawthorne, NY., Aldine de Gruyter.
Daly, M., M. Wilson, and N. Vasdev. 2001. Income inequality and homicide rates in Canada and the United States. Canadian Journal of Criminology 43:219-236.
Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London, Murray.
Dawkins, R. 1982. The Extended Phenotype. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. London, Bantam Press.
Dennett, D. C. 1995. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York, Simon and Schuster.
Dennett, D. C. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York, Viking.
Desmond, A. 1989. The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Desmond, A., and J. Moore. 1991. Darwin. London, Penguin.
Ecklund, E. H. 2007. Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics. Social Problems 54:289-307.
Gluckman, P., and M. Hanson. 2006. Mismatch: Why Our World No Longer Fits Our Bodies. New York, Oxford University Press.
Hauser, M. D. 2006. Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. New York, Harper Collins.
Huxley, T. H. 1863. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. London, Williams and Norgate.
Johnson, P. E. 1993. Darwin on Trial. Downers Grove, IL., InterVarsity Press.
Kroeber, A. L. 1915. Eighteen professions. American Anthropologist 17:52-59.
Mill, J. S. 1873. Autobiography. New York, P.F. Collier & Son.
Pinker, S. 2002. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York, Viking.
Rose, S. 2009. Should scientists study race and IQ? NO: Science and society do not benefit. Nature 457:786-788.
Roughgarden, J. 2004. Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People. Los Angeles, University of California Press.
Roughgarden, J., M. Oishi, and E. Akçay. 2006. Reproductive social behavior: Cooperative games to replace sexual selection. Science 311:965-969.
Ruse, M. 1998. Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books.
Segerstråle, U. 2000. Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate. Oxford Oxford University Press.
Wilkins, J. F. 2005. Genomic imprinting and methylation: epigenetic canalization and conflict. Trends in Genetics 21:356-365.
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