Darwinian Theory, Emergent Minds, and Traditional Values

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There are many intellectual challenges posed by the integration of the natural sciences with the social and political sciences. One such challenge arises from the attempt to join Darwinism with traditional conservative values. Political scientist Larry Arnhart argues that Darwinism provides a biological foundation for conservative notions of human nature, traditional morality, family values, private property, limited government, and the like. A foundation for his view is the claim that the laws of nature and material causes are sufficient to produce “emergent” human minds capable of the kind of free will consistent with moral responsibility. This essay argues, however, that Arnhart’s stance implies determinism of the mind and the disintegration of morality. As such, those who hold conservative values ought to demur from Darwinian science and instead adopt a more traditional view, which has a richer understanding of the human mind, will, and moral responsibility.


Keywords: Political Conservatism, Larry Arnhart, Darwinism, Emergence, Determinism, Free Will, Moral Responsibility
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , , Darwinian Theory, Emergent Minds, and Traditional Values,


Stephen Dilley

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, St Edward's University
Austin, Texas, USA

Stephen C. Dilley is an assistant professor of philosophy at St Edward's University in Austin, Texas. His areas of interest are philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy.

Ref: I08P0835