A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation by Peter Singer

By Peter Singer

In A Darwinian Left, Peter Singer argues that the political left has misunderstood Darwinian principles and therefore been adverse to the applying of Darwinian pondering to politics. these at the political left who search a extra egalitarian society should still as a substitute embody evolutionary rules and the best way to use evolutionary pondering which will construct the type of cooperative society sought.

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Nothing I have said is contradicted by the existence of individuals who do not care for their kin, or of couples in which the man looks after the children while the woman serves in the army, for the same reason that the statement 'men are generally taller than women' is not contradicted by a tall woman. 37 I must also stress that my rough classification of human behaviour carries no evaluative overtones. I am not saying that because something like hierarchy, or male dominance, is characteristic of almost all human societies, that therefore it is good, or acceptable, or that we should not attempt to change it.

So while equality is not required, too great a disparity in power or wealth will remove the incentive for mutual cooperation. This strongly suggests a need to do something about the economic trends in developed nations which for the past decade or more have increased economic inequality. The left, of course, has ample reason to reverse these trends and to make people at the bottom 52 better off. But the aim of creating a society based on mutually beneficial cooperation adds another strong reason to do so: to leave a group of people so far outside the social commonwealth that they have nothing to contribute to it, is to alienate them from social practices and institutions in a manner that almost ensures that they will become adversaries who pose a danger to those institutions.

In that neat characterisation there lurks the notion that Darwinian evolution stops at the dawn of human history, and the materialist forces of history take over. That idea needs to be examined more closely. Here is Marx's own classic statement of his materialist theory of history: The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

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