An evolutionary framework for philosophical issues

A philosophical focus on evolutionary theory cannot ignore the huge consequences that Darwinism had for traditional philosophical problems, ranging from theological and moral matters to psychology. Since this field is as wide as philosophy itself, I will not even try a small survey but will instead indicate two or three perspectives on the fecundity and the difficulties involved in the use of evolutionary considerations in philosophical debates on human nature. Evolutionary theory pervades the whole theoretical discourse on man: from philosophy of mind and language to morals through epistemology.46 Two general motives can be distinguished: applying the power of selectionist schemes to problems outside biology; integrating traditional problems ofmeaning and culture within a large evolutionary framework, which permits asking anew the question of the origins of some devices (of ethics, of language, etc.), which has been avoided because of the untestability of hypotheses. In a strict sense, only the second strategy can be called a naturalistic evolutionary framework; however, the first one is almost always thought of within a naturalistic strategy.47 Here I will not consider issues in evolutionary ethics (see Chapter 25, Volume 3).

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