Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Before Darwin

Look out. Sirius' Brandon is on the march in this fine post:
The significance of Darwin was not that he gave a way to attribute moral qualities to animals. It was (need it actually be said?) that he gave a powerful argument for a gradualist account of the origin of species. Darwin's amateur reflections on morality can easily be shown to be derivative; from Hume, for instance, who makes a stronger case than Darwin does for attributing moral qualities to animals. It may be hard to imagine, but Darwin was not an all-shattering trumpet-blast opening the first round of Ragnarok. Almost always, when people open a sentence with "Before Darwin" you know that they are trying to pull a fast one; the only such sentence that is clearly true is, "Before Darwin we didn't have anyone pompously telling us how things were before Darwin." And, contrary to Madigan's claims, only someone very uninformed would hold that most religions assume that human beings begin with regard for every member of our species.
Ouch. Check it out.

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