Political Conservatism and Darwinian Science: Does Conservatism Have a Future?

13 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 18 Aug 2009

Date Written: 2009


In an era of rapid change and shifting political alliances, a number of scholars have attempted to keep political conservatism viable and current by arguing that Darwinian science supports political conservatism. In particular, Prof. Larry Arnhart levels a sustained argument that Darwinism provides a biological foundation for conservative notions of human nature, traditional morality, family values, private property, limited government, and the like. A foundation for his view is the claim that the laws of nature and material causes are sufficient to produce "emergent" human minds capable of the kind of free will consistent with moral responsibility. This essay argues that Arnhart's attempt to unite Darwinism and conservatism fails, even when augmented by developments in the philosophy of mind. As such, political conservatism does not seem to be reconciliable with Darwinian theory - a result that has implications for the intellectual viability of conservatism in changing political landscape of the 21st century.

Suggested Citation

Dilley, Stephen C., Political Conservatism and Darwinian Science: Does Conservatism Have a Future? (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1448931

Stephen C. Dilley (Contact Author)

St Edward's University ( email )

3001 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704
United States

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