Darwin and the Declaration

Politics and the Life Sciences, Forthcoming

36 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2011

See all articles by S. Adam Seagrave

S. Adam Seagrave

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 25, 2011


Does the prima facie contradiction between the Declaration of Independence’s description of the separate and unique “creation” of human beings and Darwin’s evolutionary account indicate a broader contradiction between theories of human rights and Darwinian evolution? While similar troubling questions have been raised and answered in the affirmative since Darwin’s time, this article renews, updates and significantly fortifies such answers with original arguments. If a “distilled” formulation of the Declaration’s central claims, short of complicating entanglements with both theology and comprehensive philosophical doctrines, may still be in contradiction with Darwinian evolutionary theory, this should be cause for substantial concern on the part of all normative political theorists, from Straussians to Rawlsians. Despite the notable recent efforts of a few political theorists, evolutionary ethicists and sociobiologists to establish the compatibility of Darwinian evolutionary theory with moral norms such as the idea of natural or human rights, I argue that significant obstacles remain.

Keywords: Darwin, Natural Rights, Human Rights, Declaration of Independence, Moral Sense

Suggested Citation

Seagrave, S. Adam, Darwin and the Declaration (August 25, 2011). Politics and the Life Sciences, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1915174

S. Adam Seagrave (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

217 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics