Human Nature and the Limits of Darwinism

  • Whitley R.P. Kaufman

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vi
  2. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 1-23
  3. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 25-47
  4. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 49-66
  5. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 67-87
  6. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 89-109
  7. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 111-127
  8. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 129-149
  9. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 173-196
  10. Whitley R. P. Kaufman
    Pages 197-212
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 213-222

About this book


This book compares two competing theories of human nature: the more traditional theory espoused in different forms by centuries of western philosophy and the newer, Darwinian model.  In the traditional view, the human being is a hybrid being, with a lower, animal nature and a higher, rational or “spiritual” component. The competing Darwinian account does away with the idea of a higher nature and attempts to provide a complete reduction of human nature to the evolutionary goals of survival and reproduction.  Whitley Kaufman presents the case that the traditional conception, regardless of one's religious views or other beliefs, provides a superior account of human nature and culture. We are animals, but we are also rational animals. 

Kaufman explores the most fundamental philosophical questions as they relate to this debate over human nature—for example: Is free will an illusion? Is morality a product of evolution, with no objective basis?  Is reason merely a tool for promoting reproductive success?  Is art an adaptation for attracting mates? Is there any higher meaning or purpose to human life? Human Nature and the Limits of Darwinism aims to assess the competing views of human nature and present a clear account of the issues on this most pressing of questions.  It engages in a close analysis of the numerous recent attempts to explain all human aims in terms of Darwinian processes and presents the arguments in support of the traditional conception of human nature. 



Human nature Charles Darwin Evolution Sociobiology Evolutionary ethics Literature Ethics

Authors and affiliations

  • Whitley R.P. Kaufman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLOWELLUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-59287-3
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-59288-0
  • Buy this book on publisher's site