Blog Profile / Darwinian Conservatism

Filed Under:Academics / Philosophy
Posts on Regator:343
Posts / Week:1.6
Archived Since:July 6, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Thomistic Natural Law in Justice Kennedy's Gay Marriage Opinion

Although he does not explicitly appeal to Thomistic natural law, Justice Kennedy's opinion for the majority in Obergefell v. Hodges upholding gay marriage as a constitutional right implicitly engages in Thomistic natural law reasoning."The...Show More Summary

Darwinian Natural Right in the Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Decision

As I have often indicated, the general framework of Darwinian natural right is that human nature constrains but does not determine human culture, and that human nature and human culture constrain but do not determine human judgment. Consider how that framework applies to the decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Show More Summary

Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence" & Raphael's "School of Athens": A Book Cover

Here is the book cover for the fourth edition of Political Questions, with the two paintings reproduced on the cover. I thought a lot about what the cover of my new book should look like before I settled on this design, with John Trumbull's...Show More Summary

Azar Gat on War in the State of Nature: Refuting Rousseau, Vindicating Locke

The debate among the early modern political philosophers over the state of nature can be settled by modern evolutionary anthropology. Over the years, I have argued on this blog that this is an example of how evolutionary anthropology can clarify, and perhaps even resolve, disputes in the history of political philosophy. Show More Summary

Lockean Liberalism as Symbolic Niche Construction: Locke's Mixed Modes and Searle's Institutional Facts

If we accept the modern scientific explanation of the natural world, how can we explain the human mind and human society? This is the fundamental question of modern intellectual life. There are at least three ways to answer this question. Show More Summary

John Locke and the Modern Whig Revolution of 1688

In many posts, I have written about the two great revolutions in human history--the Neolithic Revolution, in which human beings moved from foraging to farming, and the Modern Revolution, in which human beings moved into commercial societies. Show More Summary

Locke's "Very Strange Doctrine" of the Natural Right to Punish

If Morris Hoffman is right that "evolution built us to punish," this could be the evolutionary basis for John Locke's argument that in the state of nature everyone has a natural right to punish offenses against the law of nature. When...Show More Summary

The Evolution of Darwinian Liberalism

In December of 2013, I participated in a workshop on "Liberalism and the Evolutionary Agenda" in Freiburg, Germany. I wrote a series of six posts on that workshop.Now, the Journal of Bioeconomics (volume 17, number 1, 2015) has published some of the papers from that workshop, along with a paper by David Sloan Wilson. Show More Summary

Capitalism vs. The Climate?

Has capitalism caused the climate change that threatens to destroy civilization? Does slowing or reversing that climate change require that we move away from unregulated capitalism towards a socialist society that restricts economicShow More Summary

Watson's Mistakes

James Barrat has identified IBM's Watson as "the first machine to make us wonder if it understands" (224). But many critics, including many computer scientists, would say that this is an illusion. There is no reason to wonder whether...Show More Summary

Is IBM's Watson a Machine That Thinks?

“I for one welcome our new computer overlords.” That is what Ken Jennings said when he was defeated in the television game show Jeopardy! by Watson, an artificially intelligent machine built by IBM. There's a short video on this. There's also a longer PBS NOVA documentary on this. Show More Summary

The Turing Test for Emerging Consciousness in a Chinese Room or a Human Brain

I have argued for explaining the human mind as an emergent property of the human brain once it passed over a critical threshold of size and complexity in the evolution of the primate brain. If that is true, then one might wonder whether technological evolution could do for robots what biological evolution has done for humans. Show More Summary

Darwinian Natural Right in the Punisher's Brain

"Evolution built us to punish cheaters."Thus does Morris Hoffman begin his fascinating new book--The Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Hoffman is a trial judge in Denver, Colorado,Show More Summary

Are Psychopaths Still Moral Strangers?

Serial killer Brian Dugan in a June 3, 1985, DuPage County (Illinois) mug shot Jeanine Nicarico, 10, one of Dugan's victimsIn Darwinian Natural Right (first published in 1998), I have a chapter on psychopathy ("The Poverty of Psychopathic Desire"), in which I identify psychopaths as moral strangers. Show More Summary

Fourth Edition of "Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Pinker"

I have finished writing the fourth edition of Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Pinker, which will be published by Waveland Press. I have revised every chapter, and I have added three entirely new chapters on Adam Smith, Leo Strauss, and Steven Pinker. Show More Summary

Nietzschean Nihilism, Natural Right, and Liberal Education

The failure to solve what Leo Strauss identified as the problem of natural right led Strauss and his students to embrace Nietzsche's value-positing nihilism. This led to a Nietzschean view of liberal education as promoting the life of artist-philosophers who create new values as an expression of their will to power. Show More Summary

Liberal Education in a Liberal Democracy: The Philosophic Few? The Cognitive Elite? The Excellent Sheep?

In the summer of 2008, The American Scholar published an essay by William Deresiewicz entitled "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education." He stated his main point in one sentence: "Our best universities have forgotten that the reason...Show More Summary

Strauss, Jonas, and Heidegger's Nazism

As I have indicated in my posts on Will Altman's German Stranger, I see his claim that Leo Strauss was a Jewish Nazi as wildly implausible. And yet, Altman does point out the strange and disturbing refusal of Strauss to be clear and emphatic in his rejection of those like Martin Heidegger who embraced Nazism. Show More Summary

Culture Is Part of Human Nature: Jesse Prinz and the Incest Taboo

According to Jesse Prinz, "every cultural trait is really a biocultural trait," because "every trait that we acquire through learning involves an interaction between biology and the environment." Consequently, "there is no sharp contrast between nature and nurture." "Nurture depends on nature, and nature exists in the service of nurture" (367). Show More Summary

Prinz's Deceptive Silence in His Arguments for Emotivism and Cultural Relativism

In Beyond Human Nature, Jesse Prinz argues for emotivism and cultural relativism in his account of human morality. In doing this, he employs the rhetorical technique of deceptive silence. What I mean by this is that in presenting the...Show More Summary

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