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PHL 328 Philosophy and Evolution (3 credits)

After examining the theory of evolution via natural selection, the course will cover two important philosophical debates provoked by Darwin’s theory. First, by situating human beings within a purely natural context, evolutionary theory aroused the wrath of theologians, who looked to God as the source of creation of both man and nature. An important part of the argument is over teleology, the ancient theory that everything in nature has a purpose, and the course takes up the teleological argument for the existence of God and the Darwinian refutation of it. This issue leads to considering the role of religion in a post-Darwinian world. Second, by situating human beings within a purely natural context, Darwin’s theory called into question the specialness of humans in relation to animals. The debate here is whether nonhuman animals can be considered to possess cognition, language, and morality, or whether humans alone have these abilities.