Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 3, No 1 (2007)

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Evolution to Autonomy

Horace Lockwood Fairlamb

Abstract


Since both modern moral theory and evolutionary theory arose in the shadow of Newtonian and Humean conceptions of nature, debates about evolutionary ethics have typically been vexed by deeper problems with the nature of evolution itself as well as meta-ethical questions about the link between facts and values. Humean skepticism and mechanistic selectionism have recently coincided in postmodern attacks on essentialism,on meta-narratives of progress, on models of human nature, and on moral collectivism. Against this most recent wave of skepticism, however, contemporary reconstructions of evolution in light of complex systems science suggest useful ways of reinterpreting both evolutionary causation, the biology of human nature, and their implications for ethics.

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