Darwinian Evolution and Classical Liberalism

Darwinian Evolution and Classical Liberalism : Theories in Tension

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Darwinian Evolution and Classical Liberalism canvasses an array of thinkers from the past to the present as it examines fundamental political, philosophical, ethical, economic, anthropological, and scientific aspects of the ferment between Darwinian biology and classical liberalism. Early chapters focus on classical thinkers like John Locke and Adam Smith, while later chapters provide analyses of present-day classical liberals, focusing especially on F.A. Hayek, Thomas Sowell, and Larry Arnhart, the most prominent advocates of `contemporary' classical liberalism.

Thematically, the volume falls into three parts. Part I examines foundational matters, arguing that Darwinism and classical liberalism hold incompatible visions of morality, human nature, and individual autonomy. This section also contends that the free market's spontaneous order is fully compatible with a teleological (or non-Darwinian) view of the universe. Part II turns to contemporary applications, contending that Darwinism and classical liberalism are at odds in their views of (or implications about) limited government, vital religion, economic freedom, and the traditional family. This section also argues that, since its inception, Darwinism has attenuated core tenets and values of classical liberalism and Western civilization.

Part III of the volume contains alternative views to those in the first two parts, adding critical diversity to the book. Respectively, these chapters hold that Darwinian evolution simply has little to say about classical liberalism; an evolutionary account of human volition is fully compatible with the individual choice presupposed in classical liberalism; and evolutionary naturalism, unlike religious alternatives, provides a strong foundation for freedom, morality, and the traditional family.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 342 pages
  • 149.86 x 231.14 x 30.48mm | 680.39g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739181068
  • 9780739181065

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Pax vel Bellum?: Evolutionary Biology and Classical Liberalism: An Introduction to the Volume
Part 1: Foundations: Morality and Mind, Human Nature and Nature's Order
Chapter 2: Is Darwinism Compatible with Classical Liberalism's View of Morality?
Chapter 3: Locke, Darwin, and America's Future
Chapter 4: On Invisible Hands and Intelligent Design: Must Classical Liberals also Embrace Darwinian Theory?
Chapter 5: Darwinian Conservatism and Free Will
Part 2: Applications: God and Country, Family and Legacy
Chapter 6: Darwinism, Economic Liberty, and Limited Government
Chapter 7: Darwin Knows Best: Can Evolution Support the Classical Liberal Vision of the Family?
Chapter 8: Losing Our Religion: Darwinism, Secularism, and the Decline of the West
Chapter 9: A History of the Impact of Darwinism on Natural Rights and Bioethics
Part 3: Alternative Perspectives
Chapter 10: On the Relationship between Liberalism and Darwinism
Chapter 11: Volitional Consciousness and Evolution: At the Foundations of Classical Liberalism
Chapter 12: Evolution and Classical Liberalism
Chapter 13: An Historical Afterward
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Review quote

Should free citizens ever succumb to the "metaphysical madness" of determinism, Alexis de Tocqueville once warned, democracy would be doomed. Darwinian Evolution and Classical Liberalism is a nuanced yet definitive rebuke of the neo-Darwinian notion that human beings are ultimately governed by biological force fields beyond their control. In tracking the consequences of this metaphysical madness for the science and practice of politics, this volume renders an invaluable service to democracy and all who love liberty. -- Reed Davis, Seattle Pacific University
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About Stephen C. Dilley

Stephen Dilley is associate professor of philosophy at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. In addition to political philosophy, his areas of interest include the history and philosophy of biology. He has published essays in British Journal for the History of Science, The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, Philosophia Christi, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, and elsewhere. With Nathan Palpant (University of Washington), Dilley is editor of Human Dignity in Bioethics: From Worldviews to the Public Square (Routledge, forthcoming).
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