Darwinism and Philosophy

The module will look at philosophical issues that arise out of Darwin’s theory of evolution. These include questions about how best to understand the theory of evolution, and questions about what evolution implies for our view of the world, and in particular of ourselves. The module breaks down into three broad areas:

• Different ways to understand the theory of evolution, e.g. Is evolution, as some would have us believe, all about genes? Is natural selection the only important factor in evolution?

• Conceptual issues relating to biology, e.g. How do we define ‘function’? Is there one right way to classify living things?

• Implications of Darwinism for understanding human nature, e.g. Does the fact that we have evolved affect how we should see human nature? Why are evolutionary theories of human nature so controversial? Does Darwinism have any implications formoral questions?