Blog Profile / Darwinian Conservatism

Filed Under:Academics / Philosophy
Posts on Regator:513
Posts / Week:1.6
Archived Since:July 6, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Sapolsky (6): Determinism, Free Will, and Natural Freedom in the Legal System

In 1987, Robert Sapolsky was the recipient of one of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants." Some years later, he received a letter from the Foundation asking him to submit some Big Ideas for a funding initiative. The letter said...Show More Summary

Sapolsky (5): Liberals Are Movtivated by Moral Disgust and Fear of Death

In his interview on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah, Robert Sapolsky showed his liberal bias in how he reports the research on the biological influences on political ideology. It's the same liberal bias that one sees among most of the social psychologists and political scientists reporting this research. Show More Summary

Sapolsky (4): Left or Right? What about the Libertarians?

Robert Sapolsky thinks that our evolved human biology has some influence on our political ideology, in that all of us are born with genetically inclined dispositional preferences that influence our political behavior and our attitudes on specific political issues. Show More Summary

Sapolsky (3): The "Spirit Level" Debate over Inequality and Health

One of the weakest parts of Robert Sapolsky's Behave is his claim that economic inequality necessarily causes bad physical, mental, and social health, even in societies where poverty has been largely abolished. The problem is that he...Show More Summary

Sapolsky (2): Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

Like Rousseau, Robert Sapolsky believes that the biggest mistake human beings have ever made was in leaving the egalitarian life in the state of nature and entering the agrarian societies where inequality was invented. That inequality--in...Show More Summary

Sapolsky on the State of Nature: Hobbes or Rousseau? Why Not Locke?

The question of whether the original state of nature for human beings in foraging bands was a state of war or a state of peace has been a contentious question in the history of political philosophy, beginning with Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Show More Summary

Is There a Culturally Evolved Prejudice against Atheists as Immoral?

Can we be good without God? If not, should we fear atheism as promoting immorality? Is atheism contrary to our evolved natural desire for religious belief? I have written about this in a previous post, which includes links to other posts.Now...Show More Summary

Trump and the Political Scientists

Beyond my participation on a panel on Tom West's book on the American founding, my main goal at the convention of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco was to attend as many of the panels on Donald Trump as I could,...Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (7): Zuckert and the Evolutionary State of Nature

West and Zuckert agree that the fundamental idea for the natural rights philosophy of the American founders was the state of nature. West writes: "The state of nature is the basis of the founders' understanding of politics. If humanShow More Summary

West on the American Founding (6): Zuckert and the Amalgam Thesis

Thomas West recognizes that his account of the American founding as based on the theory of natural rights resembles Michael Zuckert's interpretation of the founding as establishing a "natural rights republic" (Zuckert 1996). And yetShow More Summary

"The Lord of the Rings" Films Refute Tolkien's Anti-Modernity

"He disliked the modern world." So said Christopher Tolkien about his father. Tolkien's disgust with the modern world began in his childhood. From the age of 4 to 8 (1896 to 1900), Tolkien lived with his widowed mother in the hamlet of Sarehole, a mile south of Birmingham, England. Show More Summary

The Storytelling Instinct in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"--Christian? Pagan? Wagnerian?

Next week (August 18-20), the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois, will have three nights devoted to Peter Jackson's film trilogy of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The movies will be projected on large screens, and the Academy Award winning music by Howard Shore will be played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with a chorus of singers. Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (5): The Philosophic Life in America

As West indicates, his Straussian colleagues will object to his claim that the American founders wanted government to promote the virtues by arguing that they did not promote the highest virtues, which are the intellectual virtues of...Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (4): Character Formation in Voluntary Associations without Governmental Coercion

I have argued that Martin Diamond's Midwest Straussian interpretation of the American founding is superior to Tom West's interpretation, because Diamond rightly saw that the founders recognized that the virtuous character of the people...Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (3): The Legal Enforcement of Religion?

In 1964, I was a student in Big Spring High School in Big Spring, Texas. At the beginning of each school day, there was a reading of some Bible verses and a prayer over the public address system. The next year, this stopped, because the school district chose to follow the decisions of the U.S. Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (2): Midwest Straussianism

I have written some posts on Midwest Straussianism (here) and on Tom West as a former West Coast Straussian who has become a Midwest Straussian (here). Michael and Catherine Zuckert have pointed to the tension in Leo Strauss's position on American liberal democracy as shown in three propositions:1. Show More Summary

West on the American Founding (1): The State of Nature and the Evolution of Religion

At the next convention of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco (August 31-September 3), I will be on a panel on Thomas West's new book--The Political Theory of the American Founding: Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom. Show More Summary

John Mizzoni's Defense of Kantian Ethics as Compatible with Darwinian Evolution

In May of last year, I read a book manuscript for Lexington Books--John Mizzoni's Evolution and the Foundations of Ethics. I recommended that it be published, because no other book has done what this book does in surveying the application...Show More Summary

A Thousand Posts (8)

2016I have often argued for the evolution of a Darwinian liberalism that was first expressed by John Locke and Adam Smith, although there are precursors in the liberal thinkers of ancient Athens and in Lucretius of ancient Rome. ButShow More Summary

A Thousand Posts (7)

2015In the spring semester, I taught my undergraduate course on "Biopolitics and Human Nature." This course was cross-listed in the course schedule at NIU for both the political science and the biology departments. So there were biology majors as well as political science majors in the class. Show More Summary

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