Religious Studies | Problems in Social Ethics: Evolution and Ethics
R473 | 28645 | L. Sideris


Are humans selfish or altruistic? Cooperative or competitive? Does
biology account for the existence and persistence of human morality
and religion? This course examines the wide range of interpretations
of evolutionary theory for human ethics and conceptions of human
nature. Our exploration of this topic will take us from the
Victorian period through the 20th Century and up to the present. We
will begin with Darwin's account of the evolution of human morality
in The Descent of Man and well as normative uses of Darwin's theory
by some of his own contemporaries (TH Huxley, Herbert Spencer);
recent uses of evolutionary theory in sociobiology and evolutionary
psychology (e.g. E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett), such
as debates about human selfishness and altruism, the impact, past
and present, of evolutionary theory on constructions of race and
gender; as well as current controversies over "Neo Darwinism" as a
materialistic, atheistic worldview. Course will meet with R672.
Assignments include short response papers and a longer research
paper, participation in (seminar type) discussion.