Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jeffrey Hart on American Conservatism

The WALL STREET JOURNAL has published an article by Jeffrey Hart on American conservatism entitled "The Burke Habit". Although he does not mention Darwinian biology, Hart's account of conservatism and of how Bush's Republican Party departs from true conservatism agrees fundamentally with my argument in DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM.

Hart stresses that conservatism is based on a realist understanding of human nature as imperfectible, in contrast to the Left's utopian vision of human nature as perfectible. Conservatives reject both the "hard utopianism" of Marxist socialism and the "soft utopianism" of liberalism.

The Bush Republicans are not true conservatives, Hart observes, because they embrace a "Hard Wilsonianism" that is utopian in its vision of the fundamental goodness of mankind. They believe, as George W. Bush declared in 2003, that "the human heart desires the same good things everywhere on earth." I agree.

I also agree with Hart that the Bush Republicans are utopian in their devotion to an absolute ban on abortion based on their appeal to an abstract "right to life" that extends even to embryos.

The insight of "Darwinian conservatism" is seeing how Darwinian science supports the conservative realist understanding of human nature as imperfect against the utopian vision of human perfectibility. This brings together Burke and Darwin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Fear of Teaching Darwin

INSIDE HIGHER ED has a piece by me on "The Fear of Teaching Darwin". I comment on some of the recent controversies in the United States over the teaching of evolution in both the high schools and the universities, and I lay out my proposal for "teaching the controversy by teaching Darwin."

The transcript of the federal court trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, over the teaching of intelligent design is now available online. Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe was one of the main expert witnesses for teaching intelligent design. In his testimony on October 18, he mentioned my book DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM. He quoted it as an example of how one could see Darwinian evolution as having political implications. My pride at being mentioned in this trial was countered by his mistake when he gave the title and confused it with my book DARWINIAN NATURAL RIGHT! Oh well, I'll take what I can get.