BOOK: Philosophy after Darwin: Classic and Contemporary Readings

Philosophy after Darwin: Classic and Contemporary Readings, edited my Michael Ruse (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 580 pp.

Wittgenstein famously remarked in 1923, “Darwin’s theory has no more relevance for philosophy than any other hypothesis in natural science.” Yet today we are witnessing a major revival of interest in applying evolutionary approaches to philosophical problems. Philosophy after Darwin is an anthology of essential writings covering the most influential ideas about the philosophical implications of Darwinism, from the publication of On the Origin of Species to today’s cutting-edge research.

Michael Ruse presents writings by leading modern thinkers and researchers–including some writings never before published–together with the most important historical documents on Darwinism and philosophy, starting with Darwin himself. Included here are Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Henry Huxley, G. E. Moore, John Dewey, Konrad Lorenz, Stephen Toulmin, Karl Popper, Edward O. Wilson, Hilary Putnam, Philip Kitcher, Elliott Sober, and Peter Singer. Readers will encounter some of the staunchest critics of the evolutionary approach, such as Alvin Plantinga, as well as revealing excerpts from works like Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. Ruse’s comprehensive general introduction and insightful section introductions put these writings in context and explain how they relate to such fields as epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and ethics.

An invaluable anthology and sourcebook, Philosophy after Darwin traces philosophy’s complicated relationship with Darwin’s dangerous idea, and shows how this relationship reflects a broad movement toward a secular, more naturalistic understanding of the human experience.

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