12
Jul
09

I’ve been reading…

So I have a book I read some time ago which I intend to reread with a little more insight into biology from the first time I read it in 2004. It is entitled Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological & Religious Perspective. It is really a collection of essays by a number of authors compressed into a book edited by Philip Clayton and Jeffrey Schloss. The primary reason I read this book in the first place was because it looked interesting. I found a few bits and pieces in it at least a little noteworthy the first time around, so I’m going to be posting some occasional blurbs about various parts as I am writing diligent notes as if this book were for a class. Here’s some of what I have so far:

P.2 “we seem to be dealing with two profoundly different metanarratives in evolutionary naturalism and Christian theism.”

Obviously; without such a profound difference, the need for dozens of texts outlining the distinctions would be pointless.  I won’t start off reading this book and being too snippy. I think Schloss knew this reaction would result from the nonbelievers among us as he goes on to say later:

P.3 “Our goal is to begin tentatively, not out of noncommittal diplomacy, but out of exploratory humility.”

I would certainly hope that that claims lacking sufficient evidence are properly treated as such, but I seem to recall this not being the case.

P.4 Introduction to determinism and evolutionary ethics

P.5 Evolutionary reductionism and descriptive levels of causality

P.8 “The non-adaptationist approach does not address the why question, because it does not view human morality as a biological adaptation at all but rather as a ‘spandrel’ (Gould and Lewontin 1979) or by-product of interaction between other cognitive capacities that are adaptive.”

Adaptive approach: “Unlike organisms with a relatively small repertoire of rigidly determined behaviors, the extensive range of behaviors, the extensive range of behaviors open to human beings requires a parsing mechanism to help us choose among behavioral options that are too varied to computationally assess.

P.9 Morality as a social necessity

P.11 “Cynical implications notwithstanding, indirect reciprocity does make sense of, and successfully predicts, many aspects of human moral systems.”

P.12 “So is the very best strategy for cooperative inclusion to be a genuinely good person? Groucho Marx quipped, “Honesty and fair-dealing is the way to succeed–if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” (self-deception theory)

P.17 “Thus David Oates concludes, ‘For followers of Darwin, the traditional ‘problem of evil’ was turned on its head: evil could henceforth be assumed; the problem became, the problem of goodness’ (Oates 1988).”

P.19 “First, notions of kin selection and reciprocal altruism constitute the most systematic explanation to date of the central tendency of moral affections.
“Second, notions of indirect reciprocity and self-deception constitute an unusually rich resource for understanding–and expoosing–religious inauthenticity and the conditions that promote it.

So far, it’s not too terrible, that was the introduction by Schloss. The next essay was by Michael Ruse, who, as I recall, is a bit incoherent.

P.28 Erasmus Darwin and the “Great Chain of Being”

I’m rather curious why the “progress” in evolution thing keeps popping up; it’s fairly well discounted.

P.40 The distinctions of humans from other animals; Ruse cites Charles Darwin as having claims speech and ethics are two distinctly human features and Ruse then quotes himself extensively to prove this.

*Refer to Shermer The Science of Good and Evil dealing with this.

I’m going to not post any more from Ruse; it’s like reading meaningless postmodern drivel.

Stay tuned for more.


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