“… there are not any Darwinian natural rights”
|August 9, 2011||Posted by News under Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design|
There are only Darwinian pretenses about them.
In thinkpiece “Locke, Darwin, and America’s Future” (New Atlantis,, Winter 2011) Peter Augustine Lawler muses on how Locke and Darwin changed American thinking:
… for Darwin, the dignity I accord to my particular being is an illusion. I exist for the species (or the family or tribe), and my particular being makes but an insignificant contribution to the replicative success of the species (or the family or the tribe). Everything I do is done as a being meant to be species fodder, and so I live, above all, to generate better replacements. But I have no purpose that makes my own destiny irreplaceable or uniquely significant; nature is indifferent to me. Not only can and will nature readily dispense with me, but my experiences of individuality are illusions that distract me from what I am really meant to do.
The species depends on the typical, anonymous behavior of a large number of beings basically just like me. In that sense there is, as some say, such a thing as Darwinian conservatism (though this idea is undermined by the evolutionary need for what is typical to be both variable and susceptible to change). But there are not any Darwinian natural rights, and there is no natural basis for the idea that the person is a rational animal open to the truth about all things, or that the person secures his or her dignity by submitting to some universal moral law. Lockean individualistic politics seemed to be discredited by a new science that subordinated the illusory individual to the reality of various social collectivities. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century political innovations were often about rejecting what were seen as the scientific deceptions that had produced the individual and his unnatural alienation. More.
Throw in Michael Ruse’s insight that ethics is an illusion, and you are well placed to understand what Darwin has done for America.