PHIL 1100 Study Guide - Richard Dawkins, Philia, David Quammen
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The Fact of Evolution
hypothesis: educated guess
theory: hypothesis with some evidence going for it
fact: when the truth of a belief/theory is beyond a reasonable doubt (not to be
confused with Descartes’ beyond all possible doubt, which is a ridiculous standard,
which even his cogito ergo sum does not meet)
Evolution is treated as a fact in the science of biology, not a theory
Read top-notch biologists (not other sources), and actually find out for yourself!
Some good books on the topic by top-notch professional biologists:
Jerry A. Coyne (2009). Why Evolution Is True.
Kenneth R. Miller (2008). Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s
Richard Dawkins (2008). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.
Ernst Mayr (2001). What Evolution Is.
John Brockman, ed. (2006). Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent
[most of the contributors to this volume are scientists]
The same is stated in biology textbooks, e.g.:
Douglas Futuyma (1998). Evolutionary Biology.
There are also excellent essays, e.g.:
David Quammen (2004). “Was Darwin Wrong? No. The Evidence for Evolution is
Overwhelming.” National Geographic (Nov., pp. 2–35).
Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973). “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the
Light of Evolution.”
American Biology Teacher (35, 125–129).
Dobzhansky and Mayr, by the way, are two of the architects of the Modern Synthesis
in biology, forged from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Then pick up any of the hundreds of biology journals and look for yourself at the
articles written by professional biologists for professional biologists.
- e.g., The Quarterly Review of Biology
Indeed, statements about the fact of evolution abound in professional biology
literature. There is no debate about evolution there. It is only in the outside world,
typically instigated by those who have an impoverished understanding of science
and have a religious (fundamentalist) agenda.
There is even a science of human nature, which of course is based on evolution,
called evolutionary psychology.
- e.g., Dunbar and Barrett, eds. (2007). Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary
The conclusion is inescapable: the evolution of biological species is the factual
framework for modern biology, just as an expanding universe is the factual
framework for modern astroscience.
Since all of this is so, and biology is the science (logos) of life (bios), it would be
incredibly stupid to ignore evolutionary biology for philosophy courses on the
meaning of life and on human nature, to say, “That’s science, not philosophy, we
only do philosophy here.”
- i.e., if philosophy is the love (philia) of wisdom (sophia), then surely it is not
wisdom to ignore evidence!