However interpreted, evolutionary theory is filled with theoretical problems concerning its major concepts (selection, fitness, adaptation) and hence its two major claims of the Tree of Life and of the Hypothesis of Selection. Those problems, albeit never empty of empirical and biological content, are at the same time philosophical since they involve conceptual matters that imply episte-mological and metaphysical options. Although they cannot be solved independently of the biological results, and above all could not have been formulated without the acknowledged state of evolutionary biology, they are not likely to be solved only within biological science itself. But, reciprocally, their correct enunciation and the attempt at solutions are of vital interest to the fields of philosophy of science in general and of metaphysics.

However, the most tangible impinging of evolutionary theory on philosophy is the possibility that it gives to elaborate a new framework for many general problems and first of all about the nature of man. I have tried to show the interest of the research programs constituted in this direction, their variety, and the difficulties they are facing. No integrative and synthetic knowledge of man or methodological framework of philosophical problems has yet been accomplished in such an evolutionary spirit that would be parallel and compatible with (and in the end integrated in) the Modern Synthesis. For the moment, we have local results, new challenges never free of ideological and political commitments, and insightful ways of approaching long-standing puzzles (such as the origin of language, maternal attachment, or technological evolution). But in the end, it must be said that this will have profound consequences on the way we generally conceive of philosophical problems and most of all on the image of man that is concerned with those problems.55

55 I thank Elodie Giroux, Francoise Longy, Stephane Schmitt and Stephane Tirard for careful reading and suggestions, as well as the editors for their patient revision.

0 0

Post a comment