Monday, May 14, 2007

Philadelphia Society Lectures

The lectures from the 2007 national meeting of the Philadelphia Society are now available on the Society's website. You can find audio recordings as well as written texts for the lectures.

This includes the text for my debate with John West. My lecture for the AEI debate was only a slightly revised version of this lecture for the Philadelphia Society.

While I'm at it, I would draw your attention to the fact that I emphasize in this lecture, as I do in all of my speaking and writing about Darwinian conservatism, that a Darwinian view of human nature is not based on genetic reductionism. On the contrary, a Darwinian account of human nature and social order requires three levels of explanation: natural desirs as shaped by genetic evolution, customary traditions as shaped by cultural evolution, and deliberate judgments as shaped by individual experience. These three levels are in a nested hierarchy so that custom is contrained by nature, and judgment is constrained by both nature and custom.

It is remarkable that no matter how much I emphasize that "genes are not enough," many people always assume that I am promoting a genetic reductionism that denies the importance of culture and judgment. Biology is much more than genetics. A biological account of evolved human nature must explain how the natural propensities that emerge from genetic evolution are expressed and shaped by cultural evolution and individual judgment.

This conforms to the conservative analysis of social order (from Burke to Hayek) as a complex interaction of nature, tradition, and deliberation. This trichotomy of order, which was first employed by Aristotle, is elaborated in both Darwinian Natural Right and Darwinian Conservatism.

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