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Darwinian Conservatism (Societas) Paperback – August 1, 2005
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"This book should be welcomed by those who are concerned with the social and political ramifications of the theory of evolution."(Allen Thompson Philosophical Books)
"A well argued book... Of special interest will be the author's discussion of Darwinism and religion."(Network)
"Arnhart succeeds in his limited goal of demonstrating that Darwinian theory, properly understood, supports conservative social and political ideas while discrediting leftist utopianism."(James Seaton Weekly Standard)
"There is much to be said in defense of both the realist view of the human being and the biological basis of human conduct and society. Arnhart takes up these important issues in a judicious and informed manner, and his delivery is intelligent, careful, and devoid of posturing or special pleading."(Eugene Heath The European Legacy)
"Arnhart's thesis, which he proves abundantly, is that the constraints of our biological nature explode the most persistent delusions of the Left... consequently a Darwinian politics is a largely conservative politics... Arnhart is to be commended for producing an excellent book about conservative thought."(Antony Flew Right Now!)
"Darwinian Conservatism... is a work marked by clarity of purpose, prose, and argument that one rarely finds in academic writing... Arnhart's project to offer a Darwinian account of conservative political philosophy should be taken seriously. Conservative critics of Darwin ignore Arnhart at their own peril."(Francis Beckwith The Review of Politics)
"This outstanding Societas essay is strongly recommended."(David Ashton Salisbury Review)
"The argument is conscientious, documented, and timely. Whether this excellent work will convince many conservatives is a different question."(John Gross New Criterion)
"Arnhart's book is a sustained and impressive attempt to give a Darwinian underpinning to conservative social thought."(Paul Crook Australian Journal of Politics and History)
"Morality, aid to others, political freedom and the rest can be perfectly well defended from a Darwinian perspective; Arnhart has done a very good job of doing so."(Timothy Sandefur Reports of the National Center of Science Education)
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a great little book jam packed with conservative ideas that are found only in dis-jointed form elsewhere. For example, where else have you read or heard discussed Hayek's idea of "spontaneous order?" This was a profound insight by Fredric von Hayek, and virtually unknown to most conservatives who think they know Hayek. At 144 pages you can read this book in an evening, and if you're an open-minded conservative you'll feel great and sleep well.
Those conservatives who have fallen for and swallowed whole the vacuous and silly arguments about "intelligent design" will admittedly have a little harder time with this book. There is no religion bashing. Quite the contrary. But the intelligent design claptrap is simply not accepted as either science or good religion.
If you are a center or center-right thinking person whose mind is open, or if you are a hard right religious conservative but have some room left in your brain for a little cognitive dissonance, this book and it's arguments will expand your horizons. This is a book that will be profitable even to those who ultimately disagree with it. But of course, if you read it you may be persuaded. Buy it!
Evolutionary biology is scientifically correct, which is the main reason it must be accepted by anyone, whatever their political philosophy (Arnhart does not stress this). However, Darwinian biology can be either used or ignored in making political arguments, so I will rephrase the issue as: are there good arguments flowing from evolutionary biology for conservative political philosophy?
We must note that at least in the USA, there are two quite different branches of conservativism, one espousing religious fundamentalism and the other classical economic liberalism. They have almost nothing in common intellectually and are simply politically linked by historical events. Arnhart does not stress this point.
Arnhart's arguments directed towards religious conservatism can be summarized as: (a) evolutionary biology is compatible with belief in God; (b) evolutionary biology recognizes and reinforces the notion that religious belief is a universal element of human nature; and (c) a strong adherence to family values is part of human nature. I agree with these statements, but Arnhart never addresses the burning issues, which include abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, and state-religion separation. He does deal with intelligent design, which he rejects as a scientific theory. This is in part why I call his book "disingenuous:" he simply avoids the hard topics.
Turning to classical liberalism, Arnhart says that Darwinian evolution supports a Burkean political philosophy.Read more ›