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7 - Morality for the Organicist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2021

Michael Ruse
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

How does the organicist tackle the nature and justification of moral claims? Through the upward rise of the evolutionary process. Morality is helping it on its way to produce ever-better humans. This has been known in the past as “Social Darwinism,” and has a dreadful reputation. Supposedly, it leads straight to Hitler and the gas ovens. It cannot be denied that dreadful things have been said in the name of Darwin. Spencer wanted to drive widows and children to the wall. Andrew Carnegie was one of the worst robber barons of the late nineteenth century. Friedrich von Berhardi epitomized the worst kind of rapacious German general. But there is another side too. Spencer was in favor of free trade and virtually a pacifist. Carnegie used his fortune to found public libraries. Von Bernhardi got more from the Prussian militaristic ethic than from the Origin of Species. Hitler didn’t believe in evolution! Today, too, the story is more complex. Julian Huxley was into large-scale public works. E. O. Wilson is an ardent conservationist. The naturalistic fallacy, you cannot get ought from is, is no deterrent. Organicists do not accept that the world is value-free. Organicists and mechanist/Darwinians are in different paradigms.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Morality for the Organicist
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.008
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  • Morality for the Organicist
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.008
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Morality for the Organicist
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.008
Available formats
×