Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is the evolutionary manifesto

This is the Evolutionary Manifesto. I smell the naturalistic fallacy (illicit shift from "is" to "ought)."


Anonymous said...

First, the content of this link is a rather poor exposition and representitation of (a) naturalistic ethics.

For starters, cf.

Second, I should point out that many moral non-naturalists and other meta-ethicists in philosophy have nuanced and well-argued reasons for also rejecting the descriptive/prescriptive dichotomy of David Hume and G.E. Moore (et al.), Victor. There are a great number of ethicists who argue that ethics can be, while also being naturalistic, robustly normative and realist.

It's quick citation cannot so easily dismiss naturalistic theories of ethics and perhaps indicates a deep naivete concerning the vast literature on naturalism in ethics. I suggest putting down the Geisler, Moreland, and Craig books for a day.

Third, I would be careful about cutting one's own head off in the process of objection: if Moore's "Naturalistic Fallacy" held universally, then those tired, goal-post-moving, "Divine Nature" appeals in defense of Divine Command Metaethics are similarly deflated (among other reasons).

Darek Barefoot said...

The essay you cite adopts a common view in some metaphysical direction to evolution. Kind of an Aristotlean final cause or "omega point," to paraphrase evolutionary philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.

What happened to the blind watchmaker thesis that evolution proceeds without foresight, forethought, or purpose?

Solon said...

>>It relies solely on scientific knowledge and reason to identify our critical role in future evolution. The evolutionary worldview can unite us in a great common enterprise, and provide meaning and purpose for human existence.

I don't see where reason and science has ever touched upon or created value and meaning.

>>There are a great number of ethicists who argue that ethics can be, while also being naturalistic, robustly normative and realist.

They might well find very good rules for getting along, or for achieving certain goals, or for conforming to general behavioral/species patterns, but they will never find Right or Wrong. (Spoke the atheist.)

philip m said...

The author writes: "We could try to ignore the large scale processes that govern the evolution of life in the universe. We could refuse to do what is necessary for life on Earth to avoid being selected out by these processes. But to do so would be to choose irrelevance, meaninglessness, and eventual oblivion for humanity and life on Earth.

It would mean that everything humanity has experienced until now, the misery, wars, holocausts, triumphs of the spirit, transcendent art, inventions and scientific breakthroughs; all the personal dreams, aspirations, struggles, and strivings; and all the political movements, work, fame, fortunes, families and civilizations would be for nothing. Everything would be as if it never happened. Life on Earth would disappear without trace."

He claims earlier that intentional evolution will provide humanity with a meaning and purpose, but then writes that if after humanity the universe will be as though humanity never happened then the existence of humanity was meaningless. But life on earth is doomed to die anyways, through more eventual means or quickly rising ones, and so by his own admission in the quote above, it will have been meaningless. Thus his evolutionary worldview can't provide meaning and purpose in the sense he says it can.

So since by his own admission the existence of humanity is meaningless, why all the chatter about meaning via evolution?

"We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it."

IlĂ­on said...

Quite so: meaninglessness is meaninglessness, no matter what pretty picture we paint on it.

A whitewashed sepulchur remains a sepulchur.