Blog Profile / Darwinian Conservatism

Filed Under:Academics / Philosophy
Posts on Regator:356
Posts / Week:1.6
Archived Since:July 6, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Oliver Sacks, 1933-2015: Natural Teleology in the Clinical Tales of a Philosophic Physician

Oliver Sacks died yesterday from cancer in New York City at the age of 82. There are two long--and very good--articles about his life in today's New York Times by Michiko Kakutani and Gregory Cowles.Dr. Sacks was a clinical neurologist,...Show More Summary

The Biology of Animal Culture Supports Aristotle Against Hobbes

One of the big debates in the history of political philosophy is over the question of whether human beings are political animals by nature comparable to other political animals. Aristotle said yes, because he thought human beings could be rightly compared with other political animals such as ants, bees, wasps, and cranes. Show More Summary

The Fourth Edition of "Political Questions" is Now Available

The fourth edition of Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Pinker (609 pages, $51.95) is now available. It can be ordered from Amazon or directly from Waveland Press.The thirteen chapters from the third edition have...Show More Summary

The Cultural Tradition of Nut-Cracking with Tools Among Chimpanzees

Using stone and wooden tools as anvils and hammers to open nuts is a cultural tradition among some chimpanzees. A series of YouTube videos of this behavior can be found here. Chimpanzees use hammers of stone or wood to crack various species of nuts on anvils of stone or root (McGrew 2004, 119-120). Show More Summary

Political Assassinations Among Chimpanzees?

On January 7, 1974, six adult chimpanzee males of the Kasakela community in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, attacked as a gang against a lone male from the neighboring Kahama community. Although the victim was still alive when his attackers left, he was never seen again, and so he was presumed to have died. Show More Summary

The Biopolitical Science of Locke's State of Nature: An APSA Convention Paper

I have written a paper for the 2015 convention of the American Political Science Association in San Francisco, September 3-6.The paper is "The Biopolitical Science of Locke's State of Nature." Here's the abstract: As part of the project...Show More Summary

The Neurobiology of Self-Ownership: The Self-Awareness of One's Body, One's Agency, and the Social Emotions of Justice

The Right Insular CortexNormally, we are aware that our arms and legs belong to us and not to someone else. When we move our limbs, we are aware that our limbs are moving, and when we are resting, we are aware that our limbs are not moving. Show More Summary

The Evolution of Violent and Nonviolent Resistance to Tyranny: From Foraging Society to the Present

In John Locke's state of nature, all individuals are free and equal because they can punish anyone who tries to bully or tyrannize over them, which Locke calls the "executive power of the state of nature." For the worst offenders--such...Show More Summary

Does Biblical Liberalism Support LGBT Rights?

Ten years from now, I predict, the movement for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights will be largely successful, and Biblical religious believers will claim that this success was due to the cultural influence of Biblical religion. Show More Summary

The Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity in Locke's Law of Reputation

In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke argued that our ideas of moral good and evil were derived mostly from "the law of opinion or reputation," because most human beings identified virtue as whatever was praised inShow More Summary

Monogamous Pair-Bonding in the Lockean State of Nature

Unlike Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke believed that our human ancestors in the state of nature were social animals, because the "first society" was the conjugal society of husband and wife and the familial society of parents and children. Show More Summary

Did Strauss Think that Liberalism's Success Denied the Need for Esoteric Writing?

I have written a series of posts--here, here, and here-- about Arthur Melzer's book Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing. Some of the writing in those posts is included in an article--"Does Modern Liberalism's...Show More Summary

The Evolution of Adam

Can a Christian be a Darwinian?Yes, I think so, but it all depends on how one interprets Christianity and how one interprets Darwinism. If you think Christianity requires that one reads the Bible as literally true in everything it says,...Show More Summary

The Empirical Falsifiability of Kennedy's Natural Law Reasoning for Gay Marriage

Natural law reasoning is an empirical science insofar as it makes falsifiable predictions about the failure of laws that deny human nature. So, for example, if one agrees with Robert George and others that the monogamous marriage ofShow More Summary

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

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