Michael Ruse on Darwinian Moral Philosophy

Ruse tends to be divisive and has been criticized by naturalists and non-naturalists alike for his views (though he is a naturalist himself). In a new article for Talking Philosophy, Ruse attempts to explain his position on moral philosophy that he articulates in his book Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy.

Ruse tends to be divisive and has been criticized by naturalists and non-naturalists alike for his views (though he is a naturalist himself). In a new article for Talking Philosophy, Ruse attempts to explain his position on moral philosophy that he articulates in his book Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. Ruse (similar to Searle in this way) tries to be as honest as he can about what he thinks can be proven by both current science and naturalistic philosophy and he finds, in many instances, it falls short in being able to adequately account for everything we want to account for. In other cases, he tries to be as egalitarian as he thinks the research supports and this lack of ideologizing upsets both sides of the camp.

I’m not entirely sure why this makes people upset with him. On my read, at the very least it demonstrates there is more work to do and that neither philosophy nor science has said all there is to say on a great many subjects. Of course those who think subjects like ethics are completely exhausted either by a naturalistic philosophy or a non-naturalistic one would find his critical approach upsetting. But there is a silver lining to the insufficiency he calls out: we all have a lot of work to do.

“As I said at the beginning, I blame myself for obviously not making my thinking clear. But there are days when I wonder if the hostility I encounter from those that I would think sympathetic stems, not so much from my thinking on ethics as such, but from the fact that, although no believer myself and certainly doing anything but relying on a deity in my moral philosophizing, openly I argue that a Christian can be a Darwinian. In particular, I think the kind of position I have just sketched should be welcomed by a Christian influenced by naturalism, and I am thinking here of course of Thomas Aquinas and the influence of Aristotle.”

Article here.

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