Trying to rescue social Darwinism from Darwin’s sinking ship?

From David Sloan Wilson at Evolution Institute:

Toward A New Social Darwinism

We should be suspicious of all narratives that attempt to incorporate Darwin’s theory for one purpose or another, past and present. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we are permanently trapped in a hall of mirrors. The articles by Paul Crook and Adriana Novoa show that it is possible to understand how a scientific theory is refracted through the lens of a particular person or culture. Admittedly, this is easier to do for the past than for the present. In any case, avoiding cultural bias is a problem for all theories, not just evolutionary theory.

What does that mean? Either Darwinian theory is any use in science or it isn’t. To judge from the upcoming rethinking evolution meet, Darwinism probably isn’t useful to science. But it is a pretty solid iron rice bowl for some.

Now get this:

Nothing about policy makes sense except in the light of evolution. A public policy can be regarded as a form of managed cultural evolution; a recommended social practice that is intended to benefit the common good. Few readers of these words will contest the claim that wise policy must be based on the best scientific knowledge. Yet, from there it is only a small step to conclude that scientific knowledge for every important policy topic must minimally be compatible with evolutionary theory and often will be informed by an explicit analysis from a modern evolutionary perspective. How can it be otherwise, when every important policy topic involves human beings interacting in societies that are products of cultural evolution, within an environment inhabited by thousands of other products of evolution, with genetic and cultural evolution an ongoing process? More.

Well, if we want fascism, we can always vote for it.

In real life, it would be easy to have sound public policy in a society where no one ever thought about evolution or took it seriously.

See also: “The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”

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