Front cover image for Subjects of the world : Darwin's rhetoric and the study of agency in nature

Subjects of the world : Darwin's rhetoric and the study of agency in nature

Being human while trying to scientifically study human nature confronts us with our most vexing problem. Efforts to explicate the human mind are thwarted by our cultural biases and entrenched infirmities; our first-person experiences as practical agents convince us that we have capacities beyond the reach of scientific explanation. What we need to move forward in our understanding of human agency, Paul Sheldon Davies argues, is a reform in the way we study ourselves and a long overdue break with traditional humanist thinking. Davies locates a model for change in the rhetorical strategies employed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species
Print Book, English, 2009
The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2009
259 pages ; 24 cm
9780226137629, 0226137627
Part one: A progressive orientation: naturalism as exploration
The vividness of truth: Darwin's romantic rhetoric and the evolutionary framework
Our most vexing problem: conceptual conservatism and conceptual imperialism
Naturalism as exploration: the elements of reform
Part two: The allure of agency: "purpose" in biology
The real heart of Darwinian evolutionary biology
A formative power of a self-propagating kind: natural purposes and the concept location project
A persistent mode of understanding: the psychological power of "purpose"
Part three: The illusions of agency: "free will" and "moral responsibility"
The death of an aphorism: the psychology of free will
The bare possibility of our opinion: libertarian imperialism
Words give us a special ability: compatibilist conservatism