A love of debate
, a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, has a blog
, Darwinian Conservatism
, the theme of which is that “Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history.”
Chuck Ross, the blogger of Gucci Little Piggies, initiated the following, as it turned out, very brief exchange with Arnhart:
At Wednesday, 07 October, 2009, Chuck said…
I enjoy your blog. I’ve cited it a couple times on my own blog in my discussions with traditional theistic conservatives—mainly Larry Auster. They contend that conservatism is not compatible with Darwinism. They believe that Darwinism is relativistic and can’t provide the universal morality that conservatism has to have in order to exist. Without universal morality, conservatism has no intellectual backbone.
I’m interested in your take on the matter. Can a person be both conservative and believe in Darwinism/evolution/Human Biodiversity? Thank you.
To which Arnhart’s curt reply was:
At Wednesday, 07 October, 2009, Blogger Larry Arnhart said…
Given the evident sincerity of his question, Chuck Ross must have been disappointed by Arnhart’s brush-off, especially considering given what Wikipedia says
Arnhart is best known as a scholar in the history of political philosophy and as a proponent of “Darwinian natural right” and “Darwinian conservatism.” He argues that the tradition of ethical naturalism from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas to Alasdair MacIntyre can be supported by a Darwinian account of ethics as rooted in human biological nature.
In defending Darwinian naturalism, Arnhart has debated the proponents of “intelligent design theory” by suggesting that they employ a purely negative rhetoric of criticizing Darwinian evolutionary theory, while offering no positive theory of exactly where, when, and how the “intelligent designer” intervenes in nature to create “irreducibly complex” mechanisms. Arnhart has debated the leading advocates of “intelligent design”—Michael Behe, William Dembski, John West, Jonathan Wells, and Richard Weikart—all of whom are fellows of the Discovery Institute. John West has written a book attacking Arnhart—Darwin’s Conservatives: A Misguided Quest.
In defending Darwinian conservatism, Arnhart tries to persuade conservatives that Darwinian science supports the conservative belief that social order arises not from rational planning but from the spontaneous order of instincts and habits. He suggests that Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history.
Presently, Arnhart is beginning to work on a new book to be entitled Natural Right and Biology: A Darwinian History of Political Philosophy.
[end of Wikipedia excerpt]
While Arnhart gave Ross short shrift, I wonder how he would respond if I challenged him on his view that Darwinism is not only compatible with conservatism, but is the true and best foundation of conservatism. How would he deal with my argument that Darwinian evolution on one side and the existence of objective morality and moral conscience on the other are mutually exclusive? Have the intelligent design proponents who have debated with him made that point? Or do they just talk about the bacterium flagellum?
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 10, 2009 01:21 PM | Send