Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (Suny Series, Philosophy & Biology) First Edition Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0791436943
ISBN-10: 0791436942
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$24.15 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$28.44 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
24 New from $20.95 33 Used from $8.95 1 Collectible from $17.92
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (Suny Series, Philosophy & Biology)
  • +
  • Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species
Total price: $45.45
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

This is one of the best works of its kind that I have read in many years. It is extremely well-written and reads beautifully. Arnhart argues for a Darwinian perspective on morality and human nature generally, combined with an Aristotelian perspective. His argument will be extremely controversial. Michael Ruse, Editor, Philosophy and Biology
This work is an astounding accomplishment. No one else could have done it. The range and depth of the understanding of Aristotle and Darwin are unusual; the capacity to link them to a thorough and accurate treatment of contemporary biology is even more so. And on other thinkers or historical issues, the erudition and clarity are equally precise and illuminating. For decades, we have been told that political philosophy in general and ancients like Aristotle in particular have been rendered obsolete by contemporary science. Social scientists and humanists in general and political theorists more specifically will simply have to reconsider their assumptions in the light of this work. Roger Masters, Dartmouth College
This is a very intelligent discussion of matters that in the past have invited ideologues as participants and critics. My sense is that this is a book a publisher should be happy to have on its list. Timothy Goldsmith, Yale University
Larry Arnhart is at the cutting edge of the frontiers of political philosophy today. His book on Aristotle and Darwin crowns more than a decade of research on the biological foundations of human nature. He has shown that it is no longer possible to assume that our biological nature is unrelated to our moral nature. He has therefore gone a long way to restoring the credibility of the laws of nature and of nature s God, and of the political science upon which this nature was founded. Harry V. Jaffa, Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate School
"This beautiful little book rediscovers the missing biology of Aristotle especially as it applies to moral phisophy and does so in a thoroughly modern way, that is, by integrating it with modern Darwinian thinking, a subject Arnhart easily masters. The result is a very impressive piece of intellectual work, rich in detail and far-reaching in scope and in conclusions." Robert Trivers, Rutgers University"

About the Author

Larry Arnhart is Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of Aristotle on Political Reasoning: A Commentary on the "Rhetoric" and Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Rawls.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Suny Series, Philosophy & Biology
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press; First Edition edition (April 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791436942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791436943
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Arnhart argues that certain desires are universal in human societies because they are based in human biology. He sees this as grounding an Aristotelian view in which virtues are to be pursued because they promote eudaimonia--human flourishing. Humans can only flourish when biologically-based needs are satisfied. These needs include not only the appetitive ones like food and sex, but "higher" needs of meaningful social interaction and the pursuit of understanding. These universal needs provide the needed telos for judging the rightness or wrongness of actions: How well does the proposed action promote these biologically-based teloi? This view also provides a neutral standard whereby the ethical practices of diverse cultures may be judged, so complete ethichal relativism can be avoided. However, Arnhart recognizes that there may be multifarious, culturally-relative means of achieving the universal ends.
Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arnhart holds that the good is desirable, and since we are a natural species, the good can be discerned from our individual environments and our universal constitution as a species. Arnhart's contribution is Aristotelian, in that this philosopher started from the natural position of humanity (e.g., we are a zoon politican--a social animal) rather than from Plato's Ideal World. Arnhart is a Darwinian, in that our constitution as a specied derives from our evolutionary history.
This book can be read with profit by professional philosophers as well as beginners interested in understanding evolutionary ethics. It is clear and systematic, avoids jargon, and amply discusses alternative views.
I take issue with one part of Arnhart's analysis. I learned that "the good is the desirable" in my graduate student days in economics. I have always thought this quite incorrect (I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the topic!). For instance, I may desire potato chips (or heroin) but not consider it good, and may indeed wish that I did not desire these things. In place of Arnhart's principle, I would suggest "The good is what allows us to flourish and to use our natural capacities to the fullest." The idea of flourishing as a criterion is associated with Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen and others, and the idea of developing one's capacities to the fullest is associated with the young Karl Marx, in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.
At any rate, virtually all of Arnhart's arguments go through with this minor change.
People like me, behavioral scientists, tend to ignore ethical philosophy and have contempt for its practitioners because it tries to find ethical truths independent from the natural position of human beings in the world. Arnhart is a wonderful antidote to this tendency, maintaining a high level of both philosophical and scientific reasoning.
Comment 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This book looks at morality or ethics and tries to tie together an Aristotelian with what we now know is a moral system that was part of our primate past. Part evolutionary psychology and part philosophy, it is well written, cogent and easy to read. Its message is simply that humans are social and political animals that have innate desires, but need not act on them. Humans can choose to act contrary to their evolutionary past in ethical terms. But also, political systems must not IGNORE our human nature either, or they will fail.
From page 259 of the book: To justify his laws, Moses repeatedly insisted that if the Jews obeyed, his laws, they and their children would survive and prosper in their new land. He made no claims about immortality of the soul or about rewards and punishments in an afterlife. Instead, like Darwin, he argued that the purpose of morality was to secure the earthly survival and prosperity of oneself and one's progeny. The first commandment of God in the Bible is "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). For Moses, promoting the survival and reproduction of the Jews required social norms that led individuals to cooperate within their group to compete with other groups (Deut. 4:40, 6:1-3, 11:8-9, 20, 23:9-14,25:11-16, 30:15-20). Moses taught that "whoever obeys the law will find life in it" (Lev. 18:5). Saint Paul cited this as the fundamental aim of the Mosaic Law (Rom. 10:5). It should not be surprising, therefore, that Darwinian theorists can explain the Mosaic law as promoting the reproductive interests of the Jews (Hartung 1995; MacDonald 1994, 35-55).
Read more ›
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Darwinian Natural Right, by Larry Arnhart, argues for a moral system in which we should seek to fulfill our natural desires, which exist due to Darwinian natural selection and evolution.

I think it's important to note that in this book Arnhart holds no distinction between statements of nature-what is-and statements of ethic-what ought to be. As such, his arguments tend to ignore this dualism. However, being a person who generally holds this dualism to be true, I found it easier to understand his argument by understanding his claims within such a distinction; the best way for me to describe his arguments is in such a way. His argument acts as a statement of nature in that it says that human beings, as part of their existence, seek to fulfill natural desires. Furthermore, these desires are, at their most basic level, determined by Darwinist evolution. What we typically see as morality, society, and moral sense is in fact the act of human beings seeking to fulfill these natural desires. Arnhart's claim also takes on tones of a statement of ethic, in that he further claims that not all desires are truly desirable; only those that lead to our flourishing are actually desires. He says that we ought to use reason to assess the best ways to fulfill our desires within environmental constraints, and then seek to fulfill them. Finally, he claims that an Aristotelian prudence is required in dealing with conflicting desires and finding the proper balance of desires that produces the greatest good.

Arnhart goes on to elaborate on these claims in ten different chapters. The first chapter deals with the origins of his ideas, a series of claims that he feels best describes his argument, and a series of seven main objections that he discusses at various points later in the book.
Read more ›
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (Suny Series, Philosophy & Biology)
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (Suny Series, Philosophy & Biology)