Saturday, September 08, 2012

Darwin, power, and discrimination

 Suppose you lived in a society where certain people were treated as inferiors. The justification this treatment is "It's a dog eat dog world, and as Darwin said, it's survival of the fittest. We have the upper hand, and we have to power to make these other people do what we want. Who's to say that there's anything wrong with that?"

The Declaration of Independence says that we were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. If you replace the word "creator" with "evolution" in that statement from the declaration, you end up with nonsense. We clearly didn't evolve equally. So, how would you argue against discrimination from a Darwinian perspective? 

9 comments:

BeingItself said...

There is no logical connection between accepting Darwinian evolution and thinking we ought to order society using social Darwinism.

Crude said...

So, how would you argue against discrimination from a Darwinian perspective?

I think most people wouldn't try. Someone could attempt to eke out an argument about societies granting equal rights being the most fit, but it's going to be pretty easy to tear that to shreds.

So I think most people would play the 'Darwinism is irrelevant on this question' card and try to argue it on humanistic grounds.

Ilíon said...

TheLie, Itself: "There is no logical connection between accepting Darwinian evolution and thinking we ought to order society using social Darwinism."

So, somehow, The Most Important Truth About The Nature Of Reality, Which Illuminates All Quesctions Of The Human Condition, is utterly irrelevant to, and impotent to answer, the question, "How then shall we live?"

im-skeptical said...

"The Most Important Truth About The Nature Of Reality, Which Illuminates All Quesctions Of The Human Condition"

It's not a theology. It's a scientific theory on how species evolve.

Ilíon said...

^ I don't allow fools to waste my time.

ozero91 said...

The whole thing reminds of some comic book plot, smells like Vandal Savage. The plot would be to use Darwinian Evolution as a method to propel humanity into it's next stage of evolution, to allow a superior species to arise. Naturally, this would mean letting the unfit die. Only those with the best possible genes would have the ability to survive. Some sort of global catastrophe would be required to revert humanity into a "survival of the fittest state." The theist could deny and oppose such a plan by citing that humans are not mere animals and that each individual thus has inherent value. The point of this thread, I think, is to allow naturalists to discuss the basis they would rely on to reject (or accept, I suppose) such a plan.

JB Chappell said...

"The Declaration of Independence says that we were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights."

The Declaration of Independence also says that "these truths are self-evident". But obviously these truths are not self evident to many. So, it seems to me it would be an equally valid move for someone to say that it is self-evident that "discrimination is wrong", or even that "we evolved equally."

Ilíon said...

^ For, after all, who ever conceived of, much less heard of, free moral agents denying self-evident truth.

Thus, if any free moral agent denies anything claimed/believed to be a self-evident truth, it ipso facto cannot be a self-evident truth.

JB Chappell said...

Ilíon, not sure if you are stating that the Declaration of Independence (DOI) is wrong, or if those who disagree with its claims must not be "free moral agents" (either would follow), or if "free moral agents" who would say they deny the "self-evident" claims of the DOI, really aren't denying it. Any of these would follow from what you wrote.

Not knowing your intention, all I'd add is that it seems to me there are many things that *seem* to people as "self-evident", but don't necessarily hold up under scrutiny. But, if people are of a common mind on these ideas, then they work easily enough as first principles on which other ideas can be built.

My point is simply that the "creator" doesn't need to be replaced with "evolution", as Victor does in the OP. All one needs to say is that it is "self-evident that all people are to be treated as equals". If enough people are of a common mind on this, it works easily enough to have a functional society, regardless of whether or not the claim is *actually* self-evident.