Internicene Strife
Richards (Janet Radcliffe)
Source: Richards - Human Nature After Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction, 2000, Chapter 3
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. This chapter returns from general philosophical matters to questions specifically about Darwinism. Even though the central core of Darwinism can be taken as established beyond doubt, that is in itself relatively unthreatening to traditional conceptions of the kind of thing we ourselves are. The real danger comes with the possibility that Darwinian explanation might spread further, beyond the range of organic evolution.
  2. The fundamental problem here is to find a way of presenting a complex and confused debate in a way that does not distort the issues. This chapter divides controversies about the application of Darwinism to human nature into two main kinds. The first is about whether Darwinism can give a complete account of our origins, and justify a materialist account of what we are1. The other is about the extent to which a Darwinian understanding of our evolution can provide insight into the details of our character, as is claimed by researchers in the field of evolutionary psychology (sociobiology).
  3. These controversies within Darwinism seem to have further-reaching implications for our view of ourselves than the controversy about whether the theory is true at all, and are the ones about which public debate is most passionate. The chapter outlines these debates, and in particular explains what evolutionary psychologists take their subject to be about.
  4. However, it also argues that there is no possibility of resolving these debates here, and that for the purposes of this enquiry the question of which view is right will have to be left open.

  1. A spectrum of Darwinism
  2. The battle lines
    … 2.1 Mind First and Matter First
    … 2.2 Blank paper and the gene machines
    … 2.3 The evolutionary psychology of sex
  3. Persisting controversy

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