Evolution and Natural Law Toward a Basis for Human Values

Frederick Turner






The General Argument


Two Versions of Natural Law: Thomist and Enlightenment


The Challenge to Natural Law


A New Natural Law


Evolution and Design


Human Ancestral Conditions and Natural Law


Biomedical and Reproductive Implications








11. Punishment and War


Religion and State

13. Truth, Goodness and Beauty

14. The Resistance to Evolutionary Natural Law

15. Conclusion: A Research Program in Evolutionary Natural Law

Texts Referenced

1. The General Argument

This book is an attempt to recover a great tradition of moral and legal justice that looked to nature (including human nature) as a consensual basis for the assignment of


The concept of evolution is speculatively expanded to include the evolution of the universe as a whole.value to actions. things. both because of disuse and because some of its foundations in nature were misplaced or mistaken. the direct transfer of genetic material across species. upon its account of the universe and its meaning. every founding myth. the systemic and often very swift effects of genes that control the operations of whole patterns of other genes during the individual’s process of development. Many of the world’s greatest epic poems and creation stories contain episodes. and the 1 The usual biological definition of evolution includes the change in gene populations through such processes as adaptive and sexual selection. like the taming of Enkidu in Gilgamesh. and ideas. genetic drift. excellences. the overcoming of Seven Macaw by the hero twins Xbalanque and Hunahpu in the Mayan Popol Vuh. including the human race and its natural powers. I believe also that the strange attractors of the nonlinear dynamical processes that constitute future possible species may also exist in an abstract sense as basins of attraction. and inclinations. holiness and evil. virtue and vice. But that tradition needs updating. every hero myth implicitly or explicitly bases its distinctions between good and bad. population isolation. noble and base. right and wrong. I will use it here. the escape from Polyphemus in the Odyssey. Every creation myth. fine and coarse. We now possess a powerful and detailed body of international research by which morality and legal norms can be provided with a sound and agreed-upon basis: the theory of evolution. and epigenesis. amended to include symbiogenesis.1 Almost all cultures on this planet have created systems of values and codes of behavior. awaiting a close enough combination of genes and proteins to be instantiated. honor and shame. and the emergence of new species from common ancestors. 4 . and have looked both to nature around them and to human nature as a foundation and justification for their systems and codes.

He has a fine mind that “should not” be wasted. That culture was the culture of the educated elites of the post-enlightenment West. and even in religions where the divine transcends nature. from Aristotle through Aquinas and the thinkers of the Enlightenment. ethical. In Chapter 3 we will look at the intellectual crisis of the late eighteenth. Similar systems include the Indian Vedic synthesis and the Chinese Confucian and Taoist traditions. Some civilizations have codified natural law in philosophical and legal systems. the creation itself expresses the moral will of the gods. But natural law philosophy is by no means an exclusively European or "Western" phenomenon. we say. Certainly the wishes and commands of divine beings also provide a source of moral. Only one culture has broken with this pan-human tradition and insisted that no values can be inferred from the facts of nature.forest journeys of the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata. And so on. For almost all human cultures. and legal guidance. “cry out for redress”. The soil is “good” and “ought” to be looked after. nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that led 5 . in which human cultural norms are built upon natural foundations. then. but in many traditional religions the divine is itself the spirit —or spirits—of nature. “Better” a live dog than a dead lion. The value-implications of facts are embedded in the idioms and proverbs of ordinary language everywhere. Chapter 2 of this book will trace the broad outline of European thought on the subject. The facts of the case. and have been enabled by those systems to keep the peace and allow the arts of peace to flourish among large numbers of people not otherwise committed to each other. facts imply values.

and the American Federalists. the appalling barbarities of twentieth-century Europe that immediately followed.to the discarding of what came to be called “the naturalistic fallacy” and to the separation of facts and values—a separation now frozen into the barrier between the sciences and the humanities and hardened into the conflict between science and religion. It is therefore the more urgent that we recover natural law and put it on a sound and thus persuasive evolutionary footing. ravaged a continent. Paradoxically. It points out the many dangerous and tragic consequences of that 6 . it has taken a cue from the modern West (in the writings of Sayyid Qutb. Rousseau. in the worldwide phenomenon of violent religious fundamentalism. as in some Western societies. before it could be amended to reflect the insights of Darwinian evolution. It shows how the limitations of Enlightenment science led to the discarding of natural law. But instead of trying to do without any encompassing system of secular or religious values. it substitutes—with a rather daunting logical consistency--one system imposed from on high. Today we are threatened by a similar collapse of human consensus. if it did not indeed cause. armed with advanced technology. to today. This book begins with a review of the history of the idea of natural law from Aristotle and Aquinas through Locke. in which old racial hatreds and atavistic madness. for instance) to reject any claim for value or morality based upon the nature that we all share. Here I would note that the discarding of natural law did not prevent.

stem cell research. Classic issues of political philosophy and political economy can be re-founded upon an understanding of our natural moral emotions. Government must avoid the trap of our natural “wolfpack” allegiance to a leader or patriarch. long the basis of political philosophy. needs to be rethought in the light of our natural sociability. itself naturally derived. Justice and war should be recognized as based on the natural emotion of revenge. democratic institutions mitigate that problem by a market-like competitive mechanism. etc. which in individuals is often a beneficial sanction to discourage threats to the survival needs of the cooperative group. Commonsense policies and moral norms for abortion. Religion seems to be natural to human beings. which can become pathological when group numbers exceed a few hundred. at least as an inducement to cooperation. cloning. but which on a collective level can lead to the insanities of war. emerge from a good understanding of our embryonic development and our nature as social animals. Social contract theory. But we must recognize that justice is a sublimation of the revenge instinct and withers if it is 7 . Property can be refounded on the natural territoriality of living organisms. The book then presents a case for the full reconciliation and consilience of religious and scientific accounts of the universe. It defends the thesis that our nomadic past is relevant to our technological present. evolved to favor the species over the individual. and argues that natural law needs to be updated and reestablished as a guide to our legal and moral practice. and should be welcomed but not legally endorsed by the state.loss. The book suggests the following hypotheses. gay civil unions.

If nature has its own very orderly ways of changing species and altering natural functions and ends.cut off from its natural emotive roots. though valid and valuable in many ways as a foundation for moral and legal codes. and require free conditions for their flourishing. It could not conceive of the change of species and the emergence of new species. or the use of formerly reproductive behaviors for social bonding as in bonobos and other social species. The book concludes by suggesting a system for the discovery and testing of natural-law principles. was deeply flawed because it regarded the species as fixed and unchanging. and dispels some misconceptions that might justify such resistance. Human virtues—in love. the pursuit of truth. and so on—are likewise natural as beneficial to the species. spirituality. purposes. But natural law was essentially discarded by the modern western world before it could be corrected by evolutionary theory. the rewiring of part of the primate olfactory region of the primate brain into the emotional center of the human brain. We have now come to understand the complexities and freedoms of 8 . and ends. and thus of such changes in function and purpose as the evolutionary transformation of the swim-bladder of the marine fish into the lung of the lungfish. natural law needs to be revised to reflect nature’s own creativity and open-endedness. The penultimate chapter attempts to explain the strong resistance in some quarters to the idea of evolutionary natural law. compassion. art. The key argument that this book makes is that traditional natural law. As a result it evaluated physical structures and behaviors on the basis of fixed and unchanging functions.

both old and new. I argue. would offer solutions to many of our knottiest moral and legal problems. The result.evolution better than did its earliest misinterpreters. 9 . Evolutionary principles can. be grafted on to the time-tested and reliable tradition of morality and legality without loss and perhaps with great advantage. and may be ready to revamp our basic values in its light. I argue.

have to do with the way in which the action or development of something serves its proper destiny. the formal and the final. and partly unconscious debate about natural law. the other. His natural law is based on the idea of the appropriate end of something—indeed. Aristotle analyzed natural order in terms of an entity’s suitability to its function. gene therapy. 10 . is the equally remarkable synthesis of the European and American Enlightenment. a mode of thought that comes easy to a biologist. cloning. hidden. coming out of the work of Francis Bacon and René Descartes. The bitter disputes over abortion. environmental responsibilities. two of his four causes. Both have their roots in Aristotle. as he was. strict construction and pragmatic interpretation of national constitutions —all these are symptoms of a fundamental and unaddressed problem. human rights and religious culture. There are two main versions of natural law in the Western tradition.2. just war. parental morality and sexual freedom. private property and public takings. One branch of natural law is the extraordinary system of the great medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas. free markets and regulation. Two Versions of Natural Law: Thomist and Enlightenment At the bottom of many of our current controversies is a deep. because the bodies of animals and plants are so obviously and beautifully expressive of their organic purpose.

Since the species of things living and dead were established by God at the beginning of the universe. Even among Christian kingdoms sinful transgression could be punished by military force. for instance.In place of Aristotle’s unmoved mover and final cause. it was wrong to make money multiply by the taking of interest. a Hussite. Everything in the universe had a purpose. Since the function of human history was to bring all men to the knowledge of God. Aquinas put the Christian God. A value system with universal moral injunctions could be developed out of that reading. The only way one could find the peace among men that God commanded was by the use of natural reason playing upon the book of nature. or some other sectarian devotee. or a Jansenist. and provide a natural-reason pathway for the unbeliever to the threshold of revelation. the organs of generation were obviously for the purpose of reproduction. it was a perversion to mix them or to try to turn one into another. Thus. war was sometimes necessary to clear the way. Human reason could read the functions of natural objects and human organs and proclivities. a Calvinist. Since money was not of the category of things that can reproduce. an orthodox Catholic. which is open to all men and whose conclusions and injunctions are provable by a combination of 11 . The other strand of natural law resulted from the centuries-long crisis of European religious wars and from a new socially activist interpretation of the Biblical injunction to feed the hungry. and should not be used for another purpose. shelter the homeless and serve one’s fellow-man. heal the sick. which was the working out of God’s providence and the expression of his glory. which would supplement and buttress the ethical code embedded in sacred scripture. The interpretation of scripture was now deeply problematic—different according to whether one was an Anglican.

It was this notion of natural law that forms the basis of the US Constitution and that most conservative jurists tend to want to defend. but can be the proper extension of it. and minerals. War was not justifiable on the basis of uncertain 12 . Since the purpose of nature is to promote human wellbeing—a recovery of the Edenic grant to humanity of sovereignty over nature—reason must go further than merely sticking to the given functions of nature. as they do. but also the fuel of higher human passions and loves. vegetables. Thus the function of human sexuality is not just the production of offspring. resulting in greater general wealth and welfare. In Europe Hugo Grotius and Samuel von Pufendorf had elaborated a vision of natural justice that could transcend national cultures and even religious differences.” as Jefferson put it.logic and empirical evidence—what would evolve into scientific method. which are in turn part of the natural path to salvation. In Eden we were entrusted by God with the scientific task of naming the creation. “Nature and nature’s God. to a multifold increase in production and stability in the economy. gave us natural law for the sake of human happiness and only secondarily as setting the conditions of the individual’s search for spiritual salvation and declaring the glory of God. We may legitimately change natural functions and harness them to human welfare. and thus. The artificial is not necessarily an adulteration of the natural. It is much less literalistic about the functions of natural objects and human organs and inclinations. Note that the function of nature is now changed: it is to serve the greater good of humanity. since a name is also a human use. of assigning our own uses to animals. Likewise. It differs from Thomist natural law in various ways. it is more than proper to use financial interest and the institutions of banking and investment if they contribute.

Most of these differences. The immutability of natural species was still upheld in the Enlightenment version of natural law. and the bond of pleasure can serve the preservation of the family and the rearing of offspring. with its key instruments of interest and profit. as tending toward unnatural and prideful 13 . are not necessarily fatal to an accommodation between the two positions. Though it has a bank and investments and universities. the practice of modern business. The Catholic Church voluntarily came to renounce the right to religious war. Enlightenment natural law has as its basis the supreme value of freedom. The Catholic Church. and Enlightenment Christians would recognize that the best use of freedom was obedience to due authority. while the equivalent value in Aquinas is obedience to God. Milton’s Paradise Lost is a magnificent early attempt to reconcile the two systems. was able to adapt itself in time to most of the Enlightenment program. After all. however. the Church is still deeply suspicious of capitalism. Aquinas would agree that obedience should be given freely. where the Thomist system was most faithfully preserved. Thomas himself conceded that the sexual pleasure of the unfallen Adam was greater than that of any fallen man. and the dangers to the soul of objective science and technology. but had a natural justification in self-defense (including defense against international crimes and thefts). it feared and still fears any use of the sexual organs for nonreproductive purposes. Though the Church itself traditionally defended the rights of those who marry for love against arranged marriage. Where the Catholic Church never quite abandoned Thomism or adapted itself ideologically to Enlightenment natural law was in three areas: the specific use of the sexual organs. on the grounds that one catches more flies with honey.claims of divine support.

For many years the Enlightenment reason of the American constitution was content to allow a good deal of permeability between its own principles and those of the older.human incursions into the realm of morality. 14 . but the spirit of compromise is still there. cloning. more religious form of natural law. Unfortunately the entente cordiale is today rather frayed at the edges.” “one nation under God. it now treats the advances of science and technological innovation as a potential threat to the humility of salvation. Such phrases as “in God we trust. as the current controversies over abortion. and gay marriage indicate. Though its intellectuals once led the world in scientific discovery.” and institutions like tax exemption for religious property indicate its own willingness to get along.

like state 15 . Eventually the very idea of natural law came to be viewed with deep suspicion. Romanticism rejected both the scholastic reason of the Thomists and the scientific reason of the Enlightenment. Dadaists. wars of astonishing savagery broke out in the heart of civilized Europe. imagination or will. Just as they had during the Reformation. anarchists. But of course the making up of laws out of whole cloth by persons who think it a good idea at the time has major problems. socialists. said Goya. nature now became the same kind of ideological battlefield that the Bible had once been. said Rousseau and Hume. Reason was not the instrument by which one could divine the purposes of nature. And these roots were ascertainable by introspection.3. fascists. The dream of reason brings forth monsters. What replaced it? In practice. or economically suicidal. either elected by the people or claiming the mandate of the people. Fourierists. The Challenge to Natural Law Meanwhile another. and many more ideological groups all claimed legitimating roots in nature. The heart has its reasons that reason does not know. Freudians. Nietzscheans. Golden Dawn mystics. or inhuman. the making of law by individuals. much graver. Such laws could be impossible. not the will reason. Reason should serve the will. eugenicists. Initially this rejection was in service to nature itself. Nazis. like Stalin’s Lysenkoist repeal of the laws of biology. But once reason was toppled from its throne. controversy was on its way. communists. not by reason. said Pascal. like the anti-Jewish laws of Nazi Germany.

) The disadvantage of this approach is that without some taxonomy to establish whether one situation is truly analogous to another. and to be victorious is to rightfully make law.ownership of the means of production or the Smoot-Hawley Act that turned a market crash into a worldwide depression. accompanied by some attention to precedent or appeal to a constitution. (I use the term “vulgar pragmatism” to distinguish it from the much more thoughtful pragmatism of Charles Sanders Peirce.” So the New Deal. it is not necessarily good for a flood. like Britain and the U. therefore to be right requires only to have achieved the victory. helped certain nations. vulgar pragmatism. not the problem. If centralized state control is good in war. then do it again somewhere else. for instance. Millions died as a result of the assumption that nature was whatever the victorious race or class said it was. or catastrophic foolishness. usually “worked” means “enabled us to win victory in war. Laws must be based on some underlying theory that stands a fair chance of avoiding madness. One element of the new legal theory was historicism—the victors write history. it may be bad in peace.S. was the moral equivalent of war. which I believe to be part of the solution. evil. avoid the worst extremes. Vulgar pragmatism says: if it has worked in one place. 16 . A milder version. So a new ad hoc set of theories emerged. If a firehose is good for a fire. and we are living in the presence of a stitched-together chimera composed of them. the application to case B of a solution valid in case A has a fair chance of being disastrous.

Examples are the progressivism of the United States. but what promoted trade and profit. etc. Law consists in protecting the entitlement of people to live in this unprincipled way. and the bureaucratic statism of much of contemporary Western Europe. banking regulation. copyright. without natural law. breach of contract. inheritance. and so no moral rules other than arbitrary constructs. trade union organization. Yet another element was existentialism—there are no essences. One makes up an ideal vision of society and legally eliminates everything that does not fit. limited liability corporations. 17 . More promising as a basis for moral and legal justification was the marketplace—what was lawful was not what was natural. such as the laws of tort. therefore no proper use or function of anything. floated uneasily upon the current of traditional practice and could be challenged on the basis of past or present inequity. trusts. thus there is no such thing as true species of things. the mystical communism of the Khmer Rouge. No rule organic to this view hinders the swift descent of such a life into addiction or insanity. But the marketplace itself must have some kind of legal structure and policing. the “scientific” communism of Lysenko and Stalin. the national socialism of the Nazis.Another element in the destruction of natural law was the social construction of reality. the ideology so named late in the twentieth century but already implicit in many nineteenth century utopian schemes of social organization. No essential distinction prevents the more benign examples of this view from turning into the darker ones. And those laws all presupposed definitions of property which.

an inevitable result of the loss of natural law. At present it is the remaining habits and traditional structures of Thomist and Enlightenment natural law that largely maintain the general law-abidingness in the West at large. For if there is no natural justice. Thus no war is unjust. Leave aside the fact that the same logic would apply to police forces. But the problem is graver still on the other side. natural law. The standard of just war seems necessary. came under attack. In America legal precedent and the Constitution have acted as a brake on our worst impulses toward making up laws out of whole cloth. But the very basis of our constitution. is dangerous in its own ways. is regarded either as a joke or a sinister code-word for theocracy in many legal quarters. and anyone may go to war if he chooses. a reason to filibuster legal nominations. and cultural insensitivity. On one hand. and thus to the enforcement of any law whatsoever. which had been allowed as part of the state’s natural mandate by Thomists and accepted as natural by the Enlightenment. it is the just people who will be killed or enslaved in war. social disruption. Property itself.inherent arbitrariness. then. even if no war meets that standard. a sort of swastika. Absent any way to judge between the incommensurable social constructions of the combatants. and all wars must be avoided. while much of its legal profession has abandoned both. there can be no natural injustice either. moral shallowness. The loss of the concept of just war. the obvious implication is that no wars are just. such as 18 . neither can be assigned the blame. while invented rights. if only unjust people go to war.

SUVs etc. the attempt to deny even secular rights of domestic union to homosexuals. and a continued effort to weaken the market by regulation.privacy. the drive to undermine the teaching of evolution. etc. Both regard species of things as essentially fixed and immutable. and unlimited medical care. For both old versions of natural law—Thomist and Enlightenment—are indeed deeply flawed. folk botany. a strong bid for the creation of sumptuary laws governing smoking. state policing of medicine. an aggressively secular-humanist ideology in the educational system. If a given organ or behavior looks as if it might have a given function. fattening foods. A simple return to some combination of the two old versions of natural law will not save us. a selective bias against Christianity. Here the danger would be that the inherent flaws in both Thomist and Enlightenment notions of natural law might lead to the kind of renewed fundamentalism that we have seen among alienated young Muslims. On the left we see political correctness. a new Sharia. and folk geology as evidence for their “natural “ and proper use. taxes. is prone to this mistake. firearms. the effort to choke off immigration and discourage cultural mixing. We see this tendency on both the left and the right—on the right. Even the environmental movement. and unfunded mandates. and use folk zoology. Thomists and the Enlightened alike regard that assumption as unproblematic— 19 .. biomedical science and technology. a sort of western version of Wahhabism. regarding any change in the biological world as a disruption of a natural functional harmony. which should know better. proliferate without any theoretical basis or empirical test of their validity. death.

Both Thomist and Enlightenment forms of natural law emerged before the single most important discovery about nature: the theory of evolution.they accept a purely impressionistic assignment of function and purpose to natural beings. 20 . and its extension to the history of the cosmos as a whole. Such changes of function as the evolution of a swim bladder into a lung or the primate olfactory bulb into the emotional center of the human brain are inconceivable in terms of the old forms of natural law. that is. as gravitational theory is the precondition of astronomical observation. Thus natural law as it now stands has been cut off from its basic legitimating foundation. For evolutionary theory is the very precondition for the meaningful observation of all biological phenomena at least. the observation of nature.

is a recovery of natural law on a new and revitalized scientific basis. then. and genetic inheritance is ordered. then into new species. then into subspecies. but they can. If their crude functionalism were supplemented by the marvelously sophisticated and painstakingly verified conclusions of modern biological and cosmological science. The key difference between the old natural law and a new emerging one is that for the new synthesis species are not immutable. an eohippus is not a horse. even principled. A lungfish is not a mammal. A New Natural Law What is needed. and even over time into distinct genuses. This 21 . The nonlinear dynamical process by which generations of a given species cycle iteratively through the process of variation. slowly and lawfully. Even the flawed versions of natural law provided much sound judgment and commonsense about which laws might work well and which might not. Even the Catholic Church has now accepted the conclusions of Galileo and Darwin as consistent with Christianity.4. Even time and space. change into other natural kinds. and orders. but in an ordered and measurable way. and the ancestral primate is not a human being. can change roles depending on the mass and velocity of a local reference frame—not arbitrarily. but it can make a given species of animals or plants branch into breeds or strains. So too the particles and waves of quantum theory. selection. as Einstein pointed out. we might be able to put natural law on a new footing. There are indeed natural kinds of things. families.

including our own mental processes and 22 . much of our vocabulary of freedom and responsibility becomes empty. the continuance of this process itself must be. science becomes impossible. variety. Both Thomist and Enlightenment natural law run the risk of being defenseless against the charge of determinism—Thomism because God’s will rules all. and the political freedom that enables cultures to explore theirs. vectors. so perceptively analyzed by Dostoyevsky in Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. In the world at large it means the potential of the Earth’s life to go on branching here (and ideally on other planets). The Enlightenment conception of causal order was summed up in Laplace’s imaginary calculator. and beauty of our natural environment and provided us with the means of our livelihood. which contained all the positions. including our own physical and mental state. if there is no causal order in the world. Nietzsche’s version of this idea. and morality a charade.branching process has given us the overwhelming richness. So the basis of any new natural law must be the evolutionary branching of new natural kinds. On the other hand. If anything is a good for us. and could therefore predict every single future event. and in our own lives it means the scientific freedom to go on creating new technologies. was perverted to justify many of the atrocities of the twentieth century. and momenta of all the particles in the universe. the personal freedom that enables us to explore our own and each others’ potentials. The concept of natural “branchiness” turns out to be a neat solution of the old problem of determinism versus freedom. If what we do and are is absolutely and uniquely caused by the history of the universe. Enlightenment rationalism because natural cause rules all.

It has also been resisted by many who wished to put human freewill on a different footing from nature. 23 . and by the unpredictability of nonlinear dynamical processes. That notion of causal order was undermined in a variety of ways—by Hume’s demonstration that cause cannot be proved to be logical necessity.moral decisions. by the Einsteinian questioning of the order of time itself as between different temporal reference frames. by the very different statistical causality of thermodynamics (taken by nineteenth century science to mean a monotonic increase of disorder over time). Evolutionary branchiness implies that a given causal state of affairs can cause many different sets of effects. an uncaused cause. so to speak. The rails fork and branch into different tracks. by the apparent randomness of quantum events. To change the metaphor to Darwin’s. and much of our technology is based on that assumption. and prove that it is supernatural. Each species is a different set of effects from the same original set of causes—each. But traditional determinism is still strong in many minds. Cause in this sense is like a single railway track from which no deviation is possible. the evolution of the world is not like an extending pole but like a branching tree or bush. partly because it affords us a way to reason about nature and seems to validate the powerful technique of prediction and experiment—like causes should have like effects. All of the tracks that can coexist—within whatever spaces the world allows for them—do in fact come to exist. is a different hypothesis about the future of the world.

In chaos and complexity theory there is a fundamentally unpredictable but orderly attractor that governs the branchings or bifurcations of dynamical self-organizing processes. Though prediction becomes theoretically much more difficult—well. 24 . Cause is actually not weakened but saved by the idea of branchiness. In quantum theory the state of a particle at time (2) is the sum of all the possible world-lines of the particle at time (1). as Niels Bohr and Yogi Berra observed). It is only by the isolation and strict control of an experiment that the alternative world-lines of the results can be pruned away. Hume’s objection. but could be seen as a natural explorativeness!) Einsteinian relativity can accommodate different and even branching world-lines. which is proposed here as the basis of natural law. (Thus entropy was not a measure of disorder. And the various challenges to Laplace’s causality are answered and accounted for. each of which can truly claim to be caused by the present moment. that cause is not logically provable. In information theory. as the old thermodynamicisats maintained. is taken in stride. could be interpreted as the coherent multiplication of branching paths of probability to fill the available space of possible futures. since cause is no longer being held to the same criteria of unique inference that logic is.Science is still conserved. At least some believers in human freewill might be placated by a freedom to choose among different future branches. entropy. even if that freedom is natural and not supernatural. as Claude Shannon. Edwin Jaynes. since every set of effects is indeed uniquely caused by its antecedent condition. prediction is in fact very difficult (especially of the future. Of course the great triumph of the idea of causal branchiness was Darwinian evolution. there is no contradiction between a single cause and multiple effects. and John von Neumann pointed out.

Too swift a change in an ecosystem can damage biodiversity and even climate. it is impossible for those same scientists to avoid the language 25 . Thus they refuse to allow any argument from how things are to how they ought to be. we must be aware that there may be an adaptive cost and that we have taken on the onus of ensuring an environment viable for the chimera.The new natural law. The old natural law doctrine of proper use holds in most everyday situations. We assume responsibility for managing time. just as the doctrine of Newtonian gravity holds in most normal cases within a relativistic universe. which conserves an ordered but creative and innovative process. and would be constitutionally opposed to the normative use of biological science in such an enterprise as natural law. so to speak. for the species that are now under our charge. and because scientific method seemed to deny the assignation of purpose to natural phenomena. Evolution brings about functions and purposes. In other words. Many modern biologists are ideologically hostile to traditional natural law—both because their discipline had to endure long attempts from that quarter to suppress it. and those functions and purposes are not easily or arbitrarily wrested to different ends. change is not bad as in the older natural law. paradoxically. But there are still many ways in which a new natural law might subsume and affirm the old. Though we may mix natural kinds by planting protein-making genes from pulses into rice plants. Most mutations and exchanges of genes do not work. is different from the old. which conserves the existent distinctions among different kinds of beings. But here we run into yet another obstacle. but it is something that must be gardened and nurtured—and so we return to the injunctions given us in the myth of the Garden of Eden. In practice.

The Thomist argument. and evolutionary biologists are famously vulnerable to the charge that they are simply telling post hoc/propter hoc “Just So” stories about adaptive change. Even so. is basically a pretty good one: Everything in the universe has a purpose. So the universe had at least the potentiality of generating purposes from the very beginning. The Enlightenment addendum is also valid as far as it goes: the use of natural reason playing upon the book of nature. And even if purpose is ruled out as unprovable in the beginning of the universe. Biology may be too important to be left to biologists. Human reason can read the functions of natural objects and human organs and proclivities. are separated. even without an explicitly divine element. Of course without God the terms “purpose”. which implies only design. A value system with universal moral injunctions can be developed out of that reading. ideology as always trumps experience. I will argue that science can get us a very long way toward naturally just laws even without the invocation of divine revelation. can serve the liberation and greater good of humanity. Thus if we are to borrow the useful findings of biology—and other sciences—to give grounding to our morality and legislation. and in a secular democracy people cannot be required to acknowledge a divine being in order to be accepted as a legitimate citizen of the republic of laws. which implies conscious design. it has certainly evolved since. we must do so without permission.of purpose and function when studying living organisms. at least in the affairs of human beings. Still. and “function”. 26 . which is open to all men and whose conclusions and whose injunctions are provable by a combination of logic and empirical evidence.

who want to see the physical universe as devoid of value. The work of games-theory “replication dynamicists” like Brian Skyrms. and so on. and Robert Wright proves that group selection not only can work. want all morality to be a matter of local social ideology—but also by many hard-line biological determinists. But if virtues can evolve. incest. Steven Pinker and others to have a universal deep structure and developmental process. The notion of a moral instinct is opposed not only by the social constructionists—who. Jonathan Haidt. and self-control. Why should a value not also be a fact? After all. the two groups collude in supporting our existing educational system. morality is a human instinct. so too presumably must the values that virtues serve. Derek Bickerton. Elliott Sober. adultery. by this logic. but can by good Darwinian selective processes bring about positive inclinations in individuals of many species toward altruism and cooperation. human values and faiths can literally move mountains—consider any large military or engineering or architectural project. an unfounded article of metaphysics. So the rule that moral values cannot exist in the physical universe is nothing more than a rule. theft. and freedom.Anthropological research has shown that underlying the surface variations in human codes of conduct there are robust universals that prohibit murder. David Sloan Wilson. generosity. and that enjoin such virtues as cooperativeness. direction. which has been shown by Noam Chomsky. most likely to be happy if we are good. Indeed. we are. Yet humans are part of the physical universe. truthfulness. meaning. Like language. The psychological outcome of selection for such virtues would be a conscience. and why should we 27 . lying. rejecting any biological givens in human psychology.

which are so insubstantial and ineffective as to pass through the earth without affecting it at all? Evolutionary materialists. For Dawkins the fundamental unit is the selfish gene. it is the selfish individual. bent only on survival. or the selfish atom.) Despite their theoretical differences on what the fundamental unit is. it is the selfish cell. for singlecell biologists. they live by dying. if it could. My liver dies and resurrects itself every few days. for instance. the sequence of nucleotides on the DNA chain. yet living organisms by definition are dying all the time. like Richard Dawkins. The key idea in evolution is survival.deny factuality to those values yet ascribe it to neutrinos. It is no more “surviving” than a flame. and that the primary unit should be the selfish codon. (One could argue that even Dawkins is not fundamentalist enough. what “survives” is a piece of abstract information. both laugh and shudder at the lunatic 28 . but only a metaphor. and accurate metaphor. for more traditional Darwinists. Does this mean that because the letters of this sentence on the computer screen are made of featureless dots. Biological “survival” is a grand. and that since all life depends on genes. they themselves are featureless dots? Or that because water is made of two dry gases. which is metabolism. selfishness-believers are agreed that from the fundamental unit on up. A chunk of granite that has survived in good hard fact for a billion years would. no new properties of the moral kind can emerge. like to argue that the gene is completely selfish. all life is essentially selfish. breathtaking. the selfish nucleotide. Nothing of a gene is surviving in material reality when it reproduces. it is not wet? The assertion that life is essentially selfish is mere metaphysics.

value. for the crustal plates of the Earth and the eruptions of volcanoes are now driven by the boiling and fizzing of life-created rocks as they are subducted into the mantle. or even by eating and excreting. so spiritual a thing as that pattern can masterfully determine the structure of large chunks of matter and the whole surface of our planet. and beauty? Our genes determine our bodies and brains. cooperator groups. freedom. freedom. the other species would in turn be forced to develop teleological behavior. In order to keep up. cooperative signaling and the like—such a species would be at a competitive advantage with others. and limestone is the corpses of living organisms. soul. were a species to operate as if they were real—by nurturing its young. Eventually every part of the world would be filled with organisms and structures that acted as if the universe were meaningful. soul. True. But our feelings and thoughts determine our behavior. valuable. teleology. which determines how our brains and bodies grow. and full 29 . selfsacrifice. if they are clever enough. A mere phantom—a pattern of information —can move mountains. God. In all the games that nature provides for us to play. Yet life is very effective—there is as much limestone around as granite. were complete nonsense. but. will outbreed equally smart noncooperators. planning for the future. and they determine how we think and feel and behave. which determines how future genes will be distributed in the species. etc. ritual. why should not the even more intangible entities of goodness. Suppose that beauty.claims of a living organism to be surviving by hatching its eggs. And if so abstract. meaning. and whom we choose as a mate. and thus the core value assumptions of teleological behavior as a guide to preserve consistency.

values. in his sackcloth and ashes. Good hard empirical science would tell us that of course the universe is a work of value-creation in progress. Purposes. a band of social animals. Concede still that all of those value-abstractions are still complete nonsense. with no practical or scientific relevance. But if morality is an 30 . maintained in the face of the cold hard facts of meaning. Those abstractions will have become laws of nature. and future plans imply means and thus proper functions for things and proclivities—the basis for a natural law system. an individual animal—cannot be distinguished in its actual behavior from one which is acting purposively according to values and intentions and planning for the future. It could go thus: If any entity—for instance the gene pool of a species.of intentional design. But that concession is now a purely metaphysical one. A belief in the meaninglessness and valuelessness and directionlessless of the universe would then be an act of purely religious faith. The austere and faithful biological materialist. then: That entity must be deemed to be acting purposively according to values and intentions and planning for the future. similar to Alan Turing’s well-known Turing Test for artificial intelligence. for purposive teleological value-oriented behavior. design. progress and beauty. We might devise a sort of test. could then say with the mystic “Credo quia absurdus est’”—I believe because it is absurd. intentions. love.

produce the moral emotions of revenge. If biology in itself can give a solid foundation for morality. cooperativeness. as anyone who has watched small boys play can attest. We are a natural kind. and detect and sanction cheaters and selfish defectors from the common good. the relationship between morals and natural law begins to appear in a new light. rules and legal codes. as replication dynamics has shown. emotions. and proclivities of those natural kinds are often at odds with each other—the animal drive to reproduce against the human taboo on rape and incest. and the desire for a good reputation.aspect of our biological nature. This is not to diminish either natural law or morality. the 31 . but to root them more deeply in this real evolving universe. animals. living organisms. The only authority for the idea that the values enshrined in natural law might not be so rooted in the universe is the taboo against mixing the “natural kinds” of fact and value. jealousy. do we even need natural law to provide sanctions for moral behavior? The fallacy of this question is the assumption that natural law is not itself “always already” biological. nor did we cease to be mammals. Part of the evolution of natural law itself may have been to cement a system of social controls that backs up our emerging moral instincts. The priorities. And this taboo was one of the articles of the unwritten treaty that resulted from the Enlightenment standoff between religion and science. protectiveness. But why should we need rules if we already want to obey them? The problem is again one of natural kinds. For we did not cease to be primates when we became humans. but one which is a unique mix and dénouement of many natural kinds. vertebrates. love. It can also bring about a propensity to create cooperative signaling systems. justice. when we became primates. Evolution can.

to be a good primate is to play one’s proper part in the group. a volume of essays by various researchers collected by Brett Cooke and myself. Our moral law should be based on the values inherent in the common cultural and genetic inheritance of the human race—that is. has extended the research into the area of aesthetics and the arts. Evidently part of the law’s mission would be to find out what “good” means in each case. formal or informal. to be a good piece of matter is to survive. one’s genes—in the next generation. and Biopoetics. a good piece of matter. since we are creatures of habit and are much better at doing things we have already rehearsed. We must have a moral law. human individualism against mammalian gregariousness. a good animal. Brian Skyrms (The Evolution of the Social Contract) has given us ways of modeling the emergence of moral norms. a good arrangement of energy. Already some of the ingredients for such a system are in place: Cosmides and Tooby’s important book The Adapted Mind has given us the beginnings of an evolutionary psychology of the moral emotions. to be a good piece of energy is to have a certain magnitude and a 32 . For example: to be a good human being is to fulfill one’s obligations.primate desire for high status against life’s general urge to homeostasis. and a practice of virtue to give it effect. to be a good mammal is to nurture one’s young. to be a good animal is to maintain one’s health and to maximize the representation of one’s informational structure —at this level of organization. A more explicit and overt system of natural law can balance and adjudicate among the various hierarchical levels of our mixed nature. to be a good member of the law-abiding community should also mean that one is a good human being. a good primate. Let us see how far a purely naturalistic morality can get us. a good mammal.

and so on. fulfilling one’s obligations. including the injunctions against murder. lying. 33 . theft. adultery.coherent vibratory structure. The highest level of this moral hierarchy. indeed already covers many of the Ten Commandments.

Under further pressure it resorts to rhetorical dishonesty and hypocrisy.5. to an attempt to appropriate the garments of science and reason. and making it more and more difficult for most people to find a resolution. For just as our laws must be not for religious believers alone. On the polemical creationist side. perhaps. Here I should. the whole grotesque 34 . guarantees the moral law of humankind? These questions are crucial in the current controversies that are dividing many nations. But under pressure from a contemptuous academic elite the appeal to faith rapidly becomes anti-intellectualism and what Socrates identified as a great sin. doesn’t evolution make God unnecessary to the very existence of the world? If there is no God. Evolution and Design Would not an evolutionary natural law amount to making God unnecessary to moral conduct? More fundamentally. reason cannot prove its own validity). even if the faith is only in reason itself (as Gödel showed. because it is amplifying the worst tendencies of both sides. and so we get “creation science”. “misologic” or treason against the Logos. the misuse of the term “intelligent design”. against reason itself—in religious terms. It begins innocently as a wise recognition that faith must precede reason. if any. a sin against the Holy Spirit. advert the reader to my own prejudices in this matter. what authority. they must also be not for unbelievers alone either. the sin is intellectual dishonesty. The battle between the evolutionists and the creationists is a peculiarly tragic one.

solemn sham of pseudoscientific periodicals and conferences on creation science, and a lame parade of scientific titles and degrees. A lie repeated often enough convinces the liar, and many creationists may now have forgotten that they are lying at all.

The polemical evolutionists are right about the truth of evolution. But the rightness of their cause has been deeply compromised by their own version of the creationists’ sin. The evolutionists’ sin, as I see it, is even greater, because it is three sins rolled into one. The first is a profound failure of the imagination, which comes from a certain laziness and complacency. Somehow people, who should, because of their studies in biology, have been brought to a state of profound wonder and awe at the astonishing beauty and intricacy and generosity of nature, can think of nothing better to say than to gloomily pronounce it all meaningless and valueless. Even if one is an atheist, nature surely has a meaning, that is, the human world and its ideas and arts and loves at least, including our appreciation for the beauty of nature itself. Even if this universe flowered into moral and aesthetic meaning only once, here, that would be enough in itself to pronounce it valuable, sentient, and even semi-divine. Even if we had bodies a billion light-years across and brains the size of a pea, and were sentient only one-billionth of the time, but could think and feel, we should still be called sapient and responsible.

The second sin is a profound moral failure—the failure of gratitude. If one found out that one had a billion dollars free and clear in one’s bank account, whose source was unknown, one should want to find out who put it there, or if the donor were not a person but a thing or a system, what it was that has so benefited us. And one would want to


thank whoever or whatever put it in our account. Our lives and experiences are surely worth more than a billion dollars to us, and yet we did not earn them and we owe it to someone or something to give thanks. And to despise and ridicule those who rightly or wrongly do want to give thanks and identify their benefactor as “God” is to compound the sin.

The third sin is again dishonesty. In many cases it is clear that the beautiful and hardwon theory of evolution, now proved beyond reasonable doubt, is being cynically used by some—who do not much care about it as such—to support an ulterior purpose: a program of atheist evangelism, and an assault on the moral and spiritual goals of religion. Evolution neither proves nor disproves the existence of a transcendent deity. A truth used to support ulterior conclusions that do not follow from it is quite as bad as a lie used for ends believed to be worthy. If religion can be undermined in the hearts and minds of the people, then the only authority left will be the state, and, not coincidentally, the state’s well-paid academic, legal, therapeutic and caring professions. If creationists

cannot be trusted to give a fair hearing to evidence and logic because of their prior commitment to religious doctrine, some evolutionary partisans cannot be trusted because they would use a general social acceptance of the truth of evolution as a way to set in place a system of helpless moral license in the population and an intellectual elite to take care of the impulsive and reasonless mob that results.


The controversy over intelligent design and evolution is, like many current quarrels, largely artificial, a proxy fight between atheists and biblical literalists over the existence and nature of a divine authority and the desirability of state authority as a replacement for it. Many people not warped in attitude by the exacerbations of the conflict see no contradiction between the idea that the universe, life, and human beings evolved according to natural processes, and the idea that a divine being or beings can be credited with the existence of everything, having set those natural processes going in the first place. The big question is whether nature itself, without the invocation of a creator of it, can give us a moral law that is robust enough to serve a modern democratic free enterprise society—if it can, that moral law would be acceptable both to believers, who would see it as God’s natural revelation, and to unbelievers, who could trust its metaphysical impartiality.

Let us first take a brief look at the current state of scientific cosmology—the best that observation, experiment, computer modeling and mathematical logic can do in giving us an explanation of the existence and beginning of the universe (if it had one). One point is unproblematic for mainstream science: natural evolution is quite capable, given the right set of initial conditions, of bringing about life and intelligent beings without outside intervention. The basic natural-science issue concerns those initial conditions: what some have called the “Goldilocks” problem. The universe we live in seems to be based on a very specific set of logical and geometrical rules and physical constants. For matter, life and human beings to have evolved, the fundamental parameters had to be “just right”, neither too hot nor too cold, like the porridge that Goldilocks finds in the house of the


and others.three bears. These basic constants come in two flavors: mathematical and logical rules. the principle that the angles of plane triangles must add up to 180 degrees. neither too big nor too little. the axiom that P and not-P can’t both be true. stars might not have been able to form. Mathematical physicists would dearly like to show that the second set of constants can really be derived from the first set of rules—that is. matter might not have been able to hold together. Planck’s constant (the minimum size chunk for a given piece of energy or matter). the relative values of the four physical forces. Some progress has already been made—the inverse square law by which gravitational attraction and the light from a source diminish by distance can be seen as a logical necessity. the identity rule (things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other).000 miles per second). If any of the basic parameters of the universe had been different. the number of families of quarks. the electron volt constant (the mass of a proton or neutron). the essential element of carbon might not have been cooked up. like the one chair out of three that is the right size. and Einstein’s 38 . and constant physical quantities. The former include rules like the value of Pi (the ratio of the radius of a circle to its circumference). that the way the universe is set up is logically necessary—but they haven’t succeeded yet. the value of Phi (the basic ratio of growth processes). Socrates is mortal) must be true. the gravitational constant. and the proposition that syllogisms (like the old one that states that if all men are mortal and Socrates is a man. even by a minute amount. The latter include such constants as the speed of light (about 186. planets might cool down too fast. life molecules might not work.

” as the Walrus puts it in Alice Through the Looking-Glass—one might very well be justified in inquiring who or what invented this amazingly ingenious game. that the absence of a designer would be inconceivable: 39 . Worse still. William Paley. but with no explanation in themselves. the very logic in which the argument is conducted is itself founded on the same set of completely inexplicable rules. he maintained. And given that this entirely arbitrary bunch of rules produces the staggering richness and variety of things—“shoes and ships and sealing wax. and cabbages. with every appearance of being perfectly fitted for their functions.geometrical description of gravitation seems to have taken one phenomenon—mass—out of the realm of physics and settled it in mathematics. with no logical necessity at all. were so intricately and exactly constructed. But the basic issue—how come this universe was so perfect for the development of life and intelligence?—remains. then a new difficulty raises its head: the basic constants and rules would have to be logical axioms. Living organisms. generating a universe of reasoning to be sure. But we now know from the work of the logician Kurt Gödel that a system of reasoning cannot prove its own axioms. and kings. the nineteenth century theologian. If there is only just one possible universe (this one). from which the details of the universe would flow by perfect logical necessity (otherwise other universes might be possible). that the axioms. are hanging arbitrarily out there. professed to have refuted evolution by his analogy of the watchmaker. so to speak.

with the difference. every manifestation of design. produces this astonishingly detailed world game. 40 . genetic variation. which existed in the watch. can generate superbly adapted animals and plants. that uniquely specify an evolutionary process that with perfect consistency produces things like the octopus’s eye and. arbitrary by definition. But if we are talking about a set of axiomatic rules. then the picture changes. there is no need for a designer—the rules can produce the eye. your brain—then one begins to wonder. the combination of heredity.In crossing a heath. suppose I pitched my foot against a stone. exists in the works of nature. and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. and natural selection. for anything I knew to the contrary. of being greater or more. I should hardly think of the answer I had before given. even structures as complex as the eye. that for anything I knew. the watch might have always been there… Every indication of contrivance. say. it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. and were asked how the stone came to be there. If the watch on the heath means. But if the watch means the rules themselves. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground. that. on the side of nature. played out. Many evolutionists have rightly shown that this argument cannot hold up against the evidence that natural adaptation. the octopus’ eye. and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place. dear reader. I might possibly answer. that just happens to be the program that.

each with a different set of axioms or ground rules. So we are logically forced to choose among various absurdities. The first is an ingenious programmer. Out of all the possibilities. Thus we would have a dice game that plays itself. only a minute fraction would support intelligent life. Planck’s constant. and whether it is by dice or lot or some other random method that the game is chosen. The fact that we happen to be aboard this particular universe is no coincidence—this is one of the ones with the axioms that support our emergence. The first is: who created the programmer? If a universe requires an explanation. with its now-integral life and intelligence. but the existence of even a minute fraction of an infinite amount is an absolute certainty. pure chance—the roll of the die—would eventually turn up the one we live in. and all) for it to end up evolving people on its own after thirteen billion years. let alone life. Most of the trillions of universes that different axioms might specify would not support matter. Each universe would have its own speed of light and electron volt constant. What makes this hypothesis absurd is two reflections. Some would disappear at once. Pi. with no need for explanation. why should not a creator 41 . others would never generate matter but remain pure energy universes. others might not have light or electrons at all. Many of them have adopted another possibility than the single logically-determined universe—that there might be many universes.Scientists do not like unexplained things—explaining is their job. who had only to set the universe in play (speed of light. The reason we observe an ordered universe is simply that only such a universe could produce observers of it. would no longer look like an anomaly. and even decides the shape of the dice. The beauty of this idea is that this universe we live in.

Or he might have wanted to exercise a continuous hands-on control of the whole process of nature.of it require one too? The second arises from the reflection that if we are going to posit such a programmer. or yesterday—or a few thousand years ago (as “young-Earth” creationists believe). he would have been quite capable of creating the universe five seconds ago (with all our memories perfectly stocked with nonexistent past events). in burying all those ancient-looking fossils. This is basically the position of “oldEarth” intelligent-design proponents. changing its rules as he went on. intelligent beings and all. Part of the absurdity here is that the programmer’s very successful attempt to cover up his own correctional maneuvers would look distressingly like dishonesty. not being able to give them enough creative dynamism on their own to generate genuine emergent novelties. On the other hand. and setting a sphere of light-waves flying Earthwards that appear to be from ancient and distant stars. and make it look as if 42 . such a programmer might have been constrained in his choice of initial parameters. in the twinkling of an eye? He might indeed have to have quite a sense of humor. if one accepts that the universe really is about thirteen billion years old. If God could conceive of a universe that would create itself once it was started. arranging the DNA of animals and plants to look as if they diverged from common ancestors millions of years ago. or at least to plant the first living molecules and intelligent beings in the world. For the world certainly looks as if it runs by itself. and would need to step in miraculously from time to time to create new species. and as if it generated its own species once its initial parameters were in place. Why bother with evolution. when he could stand a complete universe up. billions of years of “mindless” matter recombining.

as well as trillions upon trillions of different dead and living and null universes—none of them. why could he not actually create it? Natural science does not require such interventions. wise. The chance concatenation of “Goldilocks” parameters and settings out of a plenum of alternatives requires an infinite number of universes. and if God is an artist these readjustments would seem to be the clumsy devices of a rather poor one—like a painter who keeps coming back to touch up his painting. including an infinite number of perfect replicas of this one. and perfect replicas differing in a single detail from this one. The medieval English philosopher and logician William of Occam invented the logical rule now called “Occam’s Razor”: don’t make the hypothesis you use to explain something more complicated than what you have to explain. choose the simplest set of assumptions that will satisfy the actual case. or a composer-soloist who changes the key in midsymphony. and with immense power to alter both 43 . If all possible universes could spring suddenly into existence. or a control-freak dramatist who insists on inserting new characters and situations as the play is performed. one of them—or even an infinite number of them—would have to be a combination of atoms and energies that would constitute a single enormous and powerful nonlinear computational system. observable by definition.this universe were such. beneficent. But the programmer-less universe has absurdities of its own. too. There is a further absurdity here. except this one.

Maybe the non-evolutionary hypothesis—the clumsy or dishonest artist—is more absurd still. the “intelligent design theist”. is the difference among the “natural science theist”. or there is no God and the universe is the result of some combination of deterministic necessity. or the wild and endless foliage of universes—is perhaps a matter of taste. 44 . unprovable. or God must continually tinker with the world to make it express his will. irrational. with perfect intellectual integrity. “What created the programmer?” is a good question. Such a universe would be functionally indistinguishable from God. but it is one that cannot be disproved.its own constituents and any other accessible universe. because prior to all possible speech or reasoning or proof). And we know for sure that the truth of any axiom is by definition absurd (from “surdus”—unspeakable. but it is no more pressing than “What created the dice game”? A self-creating programmer is no odder than a selfcreating dice game. So—God created the game-rules of the world with such perfect skill that they freely interacted through evolution to make a universe. and the “atheist” accounts of why the universe’s basic constants are so perfectly suitable for the emergence of life and intelligence. So the multiple universes theory could well be taken as a proof of God’s existence! Which of the two basic sets of evolutionary hypotheses is more complicated—the brilliant programmer. blind chance. basically. and a plenum of possible parameters. Here. Since no system of reasoning can prove its own axioms—there must always be an unprovable truth behind any logical argument—we are.

The decisions we make here are like the decisions we make when we choose the rules of a game. Our choice is basically an emotional. All these differences are matters of taste. so to speak. atheists might prefer to make morality a human responsibility. Where the real quarrel lies. and spiritual one. 45 . not one that we can shuck off onto the divine. a difference that cuts across the theist/atheist divide at right angles. and free choice. and might want on political grounds to resist a supreme dictator of events. Atheist scientists might simply have a professional loyalty to reductive explanations that do not require top-down causes. I believe. and do not explain the current passionate controversy. they hinge on how we like the game that a given set of rules creates. and artistic theists might find it ugly. and a proactive and creative one. philosophical theists might find it even less likely than sheer coincidence. Atheists might object to the idea of a supreme creator out of pride in human independence.at liberty to choose any of the three. not like when we adjudicate a contested move in a game. theist natural scientists might find the exquisite precision of natural laws an appropriate object of religious awe. It is the difference between what we might call a dead universe and a live one—between a passive and uncreative universe. is in a much more profound difference in attitude. Theists might prefer the moral order implicit in a generously creative deity. faith. moral. not on whether a rule has or has not been violated. Scientific theists might object to the endless weary profusion of parallel universes on the grounds of theoretical inelegance.

The mechanical determinism of this view.On both sides of the theist/atheist distinction we find people who see the universe as essentially inert. Hume. in which the future always was and is laid out before us like a single railroad track. Were those values illusions? Or were beauty. Given such a world. Some thinkers accepted it in a spirit of bleak courage (though the courage was itself in their view predetermined by matter or God). Hegel. as the Bible says? Another whole branch of thinkers. or God supplies it with meaning it lacks in is own right. Kant. accept the endless multiplication of parallel worlds with a grim or uncaring realization of its absolute moral and aesthetic meaninglessness. and unfree—whether playing out a single predetermined program specified by some set of physical/logical constants or other. preferring many actual universes to a single inexplicable predetermined one. were swift to recognize. and goodness real but arbitrary freaks of nature?--or miraculous interventions by a God who was evidently dissatisfied with a merely fatalistic universe? Either the universe is meaningless in itself. and an even larger infinite number has made and will make every possible other choice. could God “so love the world”. the view is the same—some have been 46 . is a challenge to any moral or aesthetic values. or pronounce it “good”. as many philosophers and theologians. and Sartre. including Calvin. or this ugly sentence rather than that beautiful one? Whether it is God or sheer chance that provides this weary abundance of universes. Nietzsche. moral freedom. what difference does it make that I choose this good act rather than that crime. meaningless. or predestined by God to do exactly what it does. If an infinite number of Frederick Turners has always done and will do exactly what this one does.

The only permitted art is art that transcends nature and rejects it. and severely punish idolatry. even holy. Either aleatory or form-followsfunction principles dominate. either in pursuit of pure existentialist “whim” or the ineffable and absolute will of God. a “wandering on from death to death.driven to madness by it. like Nietzsche. there is not much point in imitating or representing it. Others. “Live-universe” thinkers on both the atheist and the theist sides reject such an inert and valueless vision. Atheist artists of this type tend toward abstraction and contempt for representational art. Either fate or chance gives us a dead universe. Strong political authority is required. ikons. and representations. like Schoenberg’s twelve-tone row. one without an inner dynamism and creativity that can generate values and qualities on its own. either to impose on a valueneutral human nature the values of human society—as with atheist Communism—or to curb the natural urges that draw us away from God—as with the Taliban. The politics of “dead-universe” thinkers is similar on both the atheist and the theist sides of the question.” sought to escape the wheel of existence altogether. religious art authorities forbid the making of images. The aesthetics of “dead universe” artistic authorities tends either to the absolutely deterministic and the absolutely random—or both. Atheist “live-universe” proponents are delighted and awed by the creativity of the universe itself. Many are 47 . For them evolution and its results are overflowingly wonderful. like the Hindu philosopher-mystics who saw the eternal recurrence of universes as meaningless. Since nature is meaningless. the preferring of the created to the creator.

and dynamical systems. a trust in natural processes. He provided a set of initial constants and parameters that did not specify a single one-track series of events. Paul’s conception of the world as groaning in childbirth—and is the precursor of Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionary theology. Religious “live-universe” thinkers. nonlinear. so we need a large element of chaos and risk in our cultural arrangements. Francis of Assissi’s naturalism repeats and amplifies St. there are political. For both atheist and theist “live-universe” proponents. Emergent new kinds of order and organization arise only out of interconnected. St. one that he does not violate by clumsy and unnecessary interventions. a sense of the dignity of people and living things. the Kingdom of Heaven is something that sprouts and ramifies on its own. like the Renaissance giants who saw in nature the footprints of God. but a free and branchy set of choices whose interaction and mutual relatedness would bring about conscious and intelligent beings. and an aesthetics of natural organic form. 48 . aesthetic and legal implications that are of profound importance. and the birds of the Spirit come to nest in its branches. Evolution is God’s chosen method of creation. For atheists of this type. the bottom-up creativity of the universe leads to a profound valuation of human freedom. Like the mustard seed. believe that God voluntarily delegated much of his own creativity and control of the future to his creation itself. moral.prepared to flout the “fact-value” distinction and see values as emergent properties of natural process—the world as an embryo waking up to itself through our own growing awareness and valuation of it.

Theists of this type agree. but see them as a passage to either higher human meanings or to the deeper intentions of God— or both. need not divide a nation along religious lines. but also 49 . new beauties. political. genres. There might be an inherent tension between those who emphasize the basic rules that make possible evolution of all sorts—biological. as dead-universe artists tend to. and would be happy to represent it in both senses of the word—by picturing it and by being its spokesman in solidarity with it. avoid ancient natural forms. legal—and those who emphasize the open-endedness of the process. It would not. and naturally pleasurable artistic techniques. Since in doing so he must have given away some of his own agency. The laws that might be inferred from either would be virtually identical. Since God set the universe free. The art of “live-universe” artists would take nature not as an enemy but as a friend. his other prime value must be love. skills. Justice for both religious and unreligious “live-universe” positions would be entirely consistent with an evolutionary perspective. artistic. Love and freedom together give us a universe that is always coming up with surprises. as Dante believed. economic. Thus evolutionary natural law. Both would love democracy. and since the universe organizes itself through mutual relatedness. if well-formulated. Both types of “live-universe” thinkers today would tend to want to recover the ancient magical sense of nature that was suppressed both by the religious iconoclasts and by Enlightenment and Modernist enemies of superstition. new deepenings of moral value. its capacity to evolve not only new entities and new kinds of entities. the free market. freedom must be one of his prime values. and the natural development of technology in partnership with a healthy ecosystem.

etc. 50 . and atheists such as communists and nazis were notorious in the Twentieth Century for their suppression of free enquiry and experiment. But such a split would be no bad thing. we must be open. as the basis of political legitimacy and would oppose recognizing states and governments as sovereign without them. the human scale. etc. and though one might imagine more religious people in the former camp. and more unbelievers in the latter. as between evolutionary strict construction and evolutionary freedom of amendment and interpretation. selection. in politics. to new forms of life. In law they would be constitutionalists. dramatic mimesis. Religious enthusiasts have as often been at the vanguard of reform and liberalization as in the trenches of legal orthodoxy. In art they would stick to the principles of tonality. poetic meter. that the vote might be weighted in favor of minorities. even that division is not at all a necessary one. and heredity—must be preserved. the “conservatives” would hold the line that all three elements—variation. in economics. In politics they would insist on the vote. in law. indeed part of the necessary dialectic itself. they would hew to the proven foundations of property rights and money and contracts. In biology. drawing.new forms of evolution itself. as nature always has been. narrative. that experiment is more important than virtuosity. that an activist bench best represents the spirit of the constitution. free speech. In economics. An imaginary evolutionary-natural-law Supreme Court of the future might split along these lines. “Liberals” would take the position that in biology. that we might one day evolve out of capitalism and into something else. in art.

might see it in their interest to have a legal foundation more consistent with the parameters of this one. and who are willing to try to change nature and human nature to do so: such people have been responsible for millions of deaths in the last century. it would have been established as part of the string of causes anyway. But if they could be persuaded that evolutionary natural law is as close as they are practically going to get to their utopia. if their own happiness were included. they could presumably accept a natural law system with as much indifference as any other—if it were established. though again their pluralism would make them entirely skeptical about the values of any particular universe.More problematic is the fit between the thought of “dead-universe” thinkers and evolutionary natural law. They might even welcome. “Dead-universe” religious determinists who do not believe in a branchy and creative universe. but in God’s undelegated will as the absolute cause of every event. a system that might make possible greater happiness for a greater number. But even here there is 51 . Dead-universe types who believe in a plenum of parallel universes as opposed to a single necessary universe. and if not. The danger here is from social constructionists who know the perfect social and economic system to make everyone happy. Materialist determinists who see all of the history of the world as a single undeviating chain of one-line causes with no inherent value or meaning would disagree in principle with a value-generating universe. in a spirit of rational hedonism. not. might also be difficult to integrate into an evolutionary natural law system. they might be placable. But realizing that the human “delusions” of inherent or emergent value were also the result of ineluctable material causes. whether designed as such or not.

to whether they could square the particular provisions of an evolutionary natural law system with their own interpretations of scriptural or miraculous revelation. On the other hand. that God controls all. meaningful communication. perhaps. who. the false premises might be too much of an irritant to the zealous. because of the cursed individuality of human beings. but not necessarily with the inferred rules that flow from it. 52 . They might ignore the premises of the ungodly. This book adopts the “live universe” view. if proof were necessary. moral emotions. is slightly different. It is also consistent with the most recent views of the evolution of higher social animals. and planning for the future as not exclusive to the human species and as emergent from natural evolutionary processes. The only group that might seriously object to an evolution-based legal system would be those who see themselves as the instruments of God in creating a strict legal theocracy. a theocracy. are doing God’s will and so proving again. which regard at least the rudiments of altruism. The issue would come down. paradoxically. symbolic behavior. intentionality. unbeknownst to themselves.some wiggle room. But these folk would be unpopular in any regime —including. But here the same could be said for any secular legal system. as is only consistent with the premise of natural law itself. They might disagree with the premise. which is that the physical universe and its means of becoming are morally relevant to human beings. for everyone’s version of theocracy.

anthropology. and confused as they are in New York. linguistics. might disagree with this last point). seeing for the bulk of her time by artificial light. controlling her reproductive cycles. and in communication by the internet with millions of people she does not know. anxious. Human Ancestral Conditions and Natural Law One major objection might be made to the entire program of refurbishing natural law and putting it on an evolutionary basis. genetics. her life expectancy is that of an extremely healthy.6. lucky. and sociobiology for the universality of 53 . How can natural law apply to such an animal? The interesting and rather surprising thing is that that person does not get sick or go mad. and genetically gifted hunter-gatherer. and that it is futile to try to apply principles evolved through millennia of hunter-gatherer species experience to modern human life. Some have speculated that we have no human nature. It is that technology has already irrevocably separated us from any kind of natural condition. who have not lived in a central African village and seen humans there as depressed. eating a diet utterly unlike that of her ancestors. that the slate of our instincts and predispositions was wiped clean somewhere between Homo habilis and today. Indeed. Somehow humans can adapt themselves to the most extraordinary circumstances. Consider a person living in an air-conditioned suburb. And she is not discernibly less happy and well-adjusted (though some. But this unexplained hypothesis collapses in the face of the mass of evidence from human ethology. driving to work.

But it is already clear that biological adaptability is 54 . and Johnson grass. for instance. Often their genomes contain a huge variety of usually silent genes that can be toggled on or off depending on the experience of an individual member of the species or of a few short generations of a lineage. that can only live in the gut of an ant that preys on the caterpillars that eat only the leaves of a certain tropical creeper—there are also pantropic “weed” species and genera that can happily adapt to hundreds of wildly different biomes. Given that we very decidedly do have a nature. mice. for instance. Take. And this observation may teach us something quite profound and important about whatever natural law we might find that specifically applies to human beings. Adaptability in a species is not in itself an unusual concept in evolutionary biology.countless human traits. Just as there are species that are excruciatingly fine-tuned to a special environment—a parasite. dandelions. from homeobox genes to immune response to stem cells to sexual reproduction to intron DNA once counted as junk. our entire view of nature is purely a social construction. sparrows. with no foundation in “reality”. with a host of specific features. orchids. Since no argument using evidence and logic would be acceptable to the latter group. how is it that humans do live happily in an environment very different from that of 9/10ths of our evolutionary history? The answer can only be that there are certain features of our specifically human nature that are designed for adaptability itself. following the same logic. Others have proposed that human beings are purely social constructions—or that. oaks. we can leave them unaddressed. At present the mechanism of that toggling is under intense study.

not a simple general-purpose robustness but an intricately designed kind of specialization of its own, like flight or air breathing or sight or the use of a trunk.

The picture sometimes given by utopian anthropological popularizers of ancestral humanity is often rather misleading. We are portrayed as living for huge stretches of time in the Serengeti plains, small hunting bands in an endless savannah. There is some truth to this picture, but it needs to be radically supplemented by new information about human prehistory—which is very much more dramatic than the arcadian view once held —and about human individual development and maturation. For instance, modern

humans evidently originated in Africa, about 100,000 years ago. But they did not stay in one place. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and other anthropologists have traced humanity’s extraordinary migrations across the globe. Humans were present in Australia at the very least 50,000 years ago, and some estimates give much older dates. The Americas were colonized not long afterwards. Almost immediately, humans were walking, and to get to Australia and America they must have walked through wildly different terrains—deserts, tundras, mountains, forests, jungles, ice-floes, marshes, barren and fertile seacoasts—and navigated across open oceans. Humans are the most efficient walkers on the planet— over very large distances, we can even outpace the horse. Our temperature control system is extremely sophisticated, better even than that of wolves and dogs. We are specialized for getting quickly to very different places. Perhaps we could say with some justice that it was not that humans evolved and then walked and ran, but that we walked and ran, and so evolved into being human—we were forced to grow big brains to deal with the technological and social stresses of moving about.


The sociology and sociobiology of our migrations is itself very interesting.


adolescence is a very remarkable phenomenon, neurologically and hormonally. As the body acquires its full strength, endurance, and sexual readiness, the behavioral pattern changes. The human brain seems to be programmed to rewire itself through puberty and sexual maturation, and delay the establishment of fixed moral habits until after the age of eighteen. A wave of dendritic pruning surges across the cortex from back to front. Simultaneously the adolescent is designed to adopt a different diurnal temporal niche form the child and the adult, staying up late at night and sleeping in the morning. There is a profound questioning and rebellious testing of parental and tribal knowledge, and a wanderlust that includes a rejection of childhood companions as mates and a search for exotic sexual partners. At the same time an urge to identify and bond with and conform to a group of age-mates emerges. Human exogamy and the incest taboo are part of this set of instincts. To keep the lid on these maturational changes, all human societies have developed systems to suppress or recruit them—male longhouses to discipline boys, rules governing female honor, rites of passage, and so on.

Archeology and the observation of modern hunter-gatherer and herding societies seem to suggest a common life-cycle for the human group, based on the challenge and spur of human adolescence. The story might go something like this. A group of young adults accompanied by a few elders disgruntled and politically disempowered in their home village set out down the coast (or into the next valley). They settle down, have children, and are faced with having to teach them the lore of the group, one that will prevent the children from wanting to go back to the old village. They tell an alternate version of the


myths and stories, which contains most of the ideational content of the originals, but which reverses key aspects of them or creates mediators in the old binary oppositions to explain the move. Their numbers increase, but while there are still plenty of local resources so that everyone can live comfortably and found lineages, there is no major conflict. When resources grow scarcer, the adolescents get restive, having to take

subordinate positions in established households. Factions arise among the elders; the losing side recruits the support of some of the disaffected young, or talented youngsters choose as mentors those among the old who resist the majority. Some incident occurs, usually involving kinship conflict—between a suitor and the loved one’s family, between a father and a maternal uncle over the loyalties of a boy, between brothers over an inheritance, or between the blood kin and affines of a young woman, for instance—and triggers a breach. Attempts at ritual resolution of the grudge succeed at first, and finally fail. A group of adolescents, perhaps including eloping couples, leaves the home,

accompanied by their allied elders; the home village settles down until it must bud a new group of emigrants. This new group of malcontents must take a different direction from that of the first emigration, or try to join or conquer the new village or the ancestral village, or strike out into the hinterland, evolving its own set of modifications to the traditional myths and rituals, and sometimes reviving the more ancient unrevised versions of them.

Each new version of the old stories encapsulates the traditional knowledge but also adds a record of its experience, failures, and successes over history. This is a story of continuous branching and spreading, and is consistent with the expansion of humanity


the founding of Japan by Chinese voyagers. and of course the taming of the Wild West continue the story. culture. seems to be a complex partnership between innate and learned traits. it must be evolutionary in its own operations. In other species. and imaginatively free in applying the old knowledge. with its ability to store and transmit vast quantities of information. Myths such as the founding of Rome and Tudor England by Trojan survivors. toggling on new combinations of older settings to meet current needs. for recognizing such contingencies as they arise. and to use tradition as a way to give new responses to new situations. the founding of the Hawaiian empire by Polynesians. takes a full partnership role. adaptability is managed mostly by the DNA and RNA and the immune system. it must be conservative in preserving its heritage of old information. In other words. for triggering those strategies when appropriate. The human version of adaptability. 58 .across the globe. In other words. Adaptability requires mechanisms for accumulating information about the world and about past successful and unsuccessful strategies for dealing with the contingencies of the world. for culture to play its full role in supplementing our hardwired biological adaptability. to recognize departures from the conditions justifying the current set of “toggled” settings. the founding of Israel by Mesopotamian emigrants. It must be able to preserve a rich and various fund of traditions. and for recording the results into the future. In our species. like so many human traits. observant in comparing it with the current situation. the founding of Hungary by the brothers Hunor and Magyar.

The most powerful stories are the great myths of exodus and liberation—and they are virtually determined by the creative tension between territorial possession and expanding demographic numbers. and they found the Promised Land. the past is the source of progress. What the present says is: “Put up with your bondage”. and cannot. Instead of progress emanating from the present. markedly different from modernist theories of innovation and originality. and accessed by evolutionary natural law. progress is held back by present practice when it encounters new contingencies (including anthropogenic ones like the overcrowding of a coastal village or the environmental stresses of the modern city).This model of human adaptability is. Instead of the past acting as the obstacle to progress. 59 . what the past says is “But your ancestors did not. but the beginnings of a true archive of biocultural adaptability. organized. for the stakes of failure are so much greater. be done with human biological nature itself. Modern technological society does not undermine or weaken the relevance of natural law: on the contrary.” And those myths of the past are not just stories. To a large extent that archive is also a record of what can. an archive of possible strategies and narratives and collective memories to be consulted and recombined to meet the new situation. it demands natural law. And it is this part of the archive that can now be catalogued. it might be noted.

In the perspective of different versions of natural law. Neither conservatives nor liberals emerge unscathed. it might be useful to indicate the kind of answers one might get. and silent or lenient where our practice is severe. Take genetic engineering.7. At present there is still much unease in the religious. Biomedical and Reproductive Implications How might a new evolution-based natural law rule on our current controversies? I am proposing here not a wholesale new natural law. What is interesting about these provisional rulings is that nobody’s ox goes ungored— evolutionary natural law is often severe where our present practice is lenient. but rather a program of study and research to improve and refound the old ones that is sound and acceptable. Nevertheless. the environmental and the medical ethics communities about the promise of interventions in the “source code” of life. and the answers would probably be wrong. but plenty of their sacred cows suffer as well. This anxiety goes well beyond the proper caution that should attend any technological innovation. if only as hypotheses to be tested. stem cell research and gene therapy. it is clear where the 60 . on the basis of existing knowledge. libertarians come out perhaps a little better. Thus it would be premature to attempt to answer this question definitively. for instance.

Whenever we choose for our husband or wife someone whose characteristics we like. as such biologists as Lynn Margulis and Sorin Sonea have pointed out. Eugenics is only an evil when it is a state monopoly: we have already been practicing it on a free-enterprise basis for millions 61 . We share 99% of our genes with chimps and 40% with yeasts. we are practicing eugenics. with lineages of genes and plasmids and organelles and mitochondrial DNA from thousands of different sources. and Enlightenment versions all agree that there are natural species or kinds. Politically we have rightly come to be afraid of eugenics and the dream of a super-race. a little monstrosity in itself. including ourselves. since our offspring will contain and perpetuate the genes of our beloved rather than those of our rejected suitors. and that to mix them or alter their basic defining characteristics is to create a monster. Every multi-celled organism is already a genetic mongrel. In physics the actual confusion of what were once thought natural kinds—space and time. waves and particles—was an intellectual but not often an emotional problem. Thomist.unease comes from. The Aristotelian. But in biology ancient fears were aroused by the mouse-human chimeras used in cancer research. Every moment bacteria and viruses are clipping out bits of DNA from some organisms and patching them into others. Evolution works by the creation of monsters—every new species started out with an individual with a new set of gene changes or grafts. the fruit-flies with legs instead of antennae and eyes growing where they shouldn’t. Evolutionary natural law might point out the following. Spacetime and wavicles were eventually accepted.

and a nutritive environment equivalent to a womb—any human cell could in theory develop into a full baby twin of the tissue donor. The opposite fear—cloning—might also be illuminated by a new natural law. through mate selection. there is nothing more natural than organisms singly or collectively altering their own and each other’s DNA. the evil of state eugenics is not the creation of weird varieties of human beings but the reduction of the human gene pool to racial sameness. and given the right environment—a vacant human egg. That which is designed to preserve the life of the individual is being 62 . There are. as when our stem cells divide and differentiate (according to the signals they receive from the rest of the body) into the components needed by the organs to replace the ones that are constantly dying. Agriculture itself is based on tens of thousands of years of genetic engineering by traditional plant. In other words. One is asexually. rather interesting though inconclusive evolutionary natural law arguments against human cloning. actually. bacterial. Human beings reproduce in two ways. of course. We now know that any piece of human tissue has a full suite of human DNA. Indeed. and all the marvelous varieties of flourishing animals and plants are the result. and animal breeders. the right chemical triggers. I say that cloning is the opposite of the creation of transgenic and mutant individuals because instead of mixing up new combinations it makes a close-to-exact copy. is sexual reproduction. To clone a human being is to use asexual means to produce an outcome normally given over to sexual means. The other way.of years.

etc. preserve individual uniqueness even at the expense of perfection. There was a reason evolution created sex: it was the production of unique individuals. use cloning to do the huge bulk of their reproduction. central planning may be as bad an idea in reproduction as it is in economics. triplets. immune to apoptosis or programmed cell death (with one exception). to clear older generations from the path of new. each of which can act as an adaptive test-bed for some special combination of the genome’s potentials. let selection pick the winners. or to make us reproductively into plant cuttings or budding amoebae rather than animals. since it presumably produces a younger version of the original. and sex only in rare but important moments. Many animals have identical litters.used to preserve the life of the species. such as ants and bees. and the only immortal cells in a human body. no fundamental natural law would seem to be broken. so also did death by aging. The natural law rule would seem to be: don’t narrow the genome. Thus one could argue that cloning a higher animal is “unnatural”. And there is another natural-law issue here: the exception to the immortality 63 . Incest or inbreeding. Some very successful lower social animals. For instance. Cloning. But there are counter-arguments too. So if cloning is seen as a rare but natural way of reproducing human beings and livestock. is known to risk degeneracy. in the case of twins. which if carried to the ultimate would result in something close to cloning. When sex emerged. better-adapted individuals. are cancer cells. even in higher animals nature does use asexual forms of reproduction as a persistent way of supplementing sexual reproduction—that is. To put it more dramatically. it is to reverse billions of years of evolution and turn a eukaryote into a prokaryote. is a means of biological immortality.

Evolutionary natural law might change the onus of justification for biological procedures from being the preservation of natural species distinctions to being the preservation of the vitality of the process of individuation. as we must in order to name things and identify them. This might in turn help us found a new medical and biological ethics. is naturally very difficult. and in all the religions of the book it is the first commandment given to humankind by God. along with cancer cells. So drawing the line. An evolutionary natural law might also help us think about abortion. his non-aging neurons are hostage to the body’s death.rule mentioned earlier. whose current “state of the art” criterion is what is known as the “ugh” factor. natural selection. nature would remind us that new species are in part genetic mixtures of old ones. It would note that the transition between one natural kind and another is not fixed and absolute but gradual. mutations and grafts from other species are accumulated. is brain cells. Likewise. generations pass. If the “ugh” factor were a reliable moral compass. the German people would have been right to exterminate the Jews. Naming is not an incidental issue: it is at the core of the work of science. to replace the current confused and desperate one. 64 . and thus when a person dies by aging. Neurons do not seem to naturally age (though of course they can die by abuse and be replaced by stem-cell activity). and viable reproduction. and crucial thresholds are crossed until a new species can be said to have emerged. Is nature saying that brains ought to be immortal? Thus natural law as revised by recent science might not give a single unconditional answer about cloning—but it would greatly clarify the language of the decision-making process.

“young one”). reversed. The late Pope John Paul II. and the law as it stands now. and requires support—but so do severely ill patients with brain activity who are legally counted as alive and are not terminated. 65 . That change does indeed cross crucial thresholds. and the loss of brain activity. Perhaps these criteria. Thus brain activity becomes the key factor. can provide a definition of the transition from non-life to life. at about eight weeks. but there is no known way of artificially maintaining brain activity as such. was given all the medical support he needed to maintain brain activity. In the dying. That threshold is also the point where the number of spontaneous miscarriages falls off sharply—nature at this point seems to cease being casual about whether it invests or not in a new individual. for instance. has identified two thresholds that mark the point of transition from life to death—the loss of the heartbeat. The process of death itself is also gradual. and here natural law might find a basis.Although embryonic and fetal development do not. recapitulate phylogeny (the evolutionary history of the species). The onset of brain activity. but his heart was not kept artificially beating after brain activity had ceased. from what is potentially human to what is a very young human (Latin fetus. based on the old natural law and widely accepted by both the Church and the population. Heartbeat in the embryo begins at about two weeks. as was once believed. The fetal “young one” is not yet viable outside the womb. corresponds roughly to the transition from the embryo to the fetus—in medical parlance. there is a similar gradualness of change from what is a speck of undifferentiated human tissue to what is a human being. heartbeat can be artificially maintained.

Why condemn cloning. while defending the right of other cells to mature to birth? Is a twin less human than a new 66 . Its writ in this respect. Wade. which might rescue a few human cells that would otherwise be doomed by metabolism. But as regards the first eight weeks of pregnancy the Church would not be able to continue to claim that its ruling would be based upon natural law. That speck of tissue can be given sacramental importance by the Church’s claimed authority. and other reasons. that might win popular and legislative support and replace the imposed diktat of Roe v. its public authority regarding the fetus after the first eight weeks would be buttressed by sound natural law. human being. This is not to say that the Church would be wrong. often proposed elsewhere on commonsense grounds. such as the moral hazard of separating sex from procreation. However. But in the light of our ability to clone and grow living cells it becomes rather trivial.Thus a new natural law might set eight weeks as the point where human life legally begins in the womb—a solution. For the live skin cells on one’s razor when one shaves are also potential human beings. may still be true. would run no further than its own members. and thus would not be able morally to hold people of other faiths or civil governments to its own internal claims. as a church. to continue to insist on the moment of conception as the dividing line. The claim that the “speck of human tissue” that constitutes a four-day-old human blastocyst is sacred as a potential. the difference being only that the technology and expense of bringing one to full human babyhood are hugely greater in one than in the other. and the protection of the dignity of the human person. even if not an actual. like the old rule about abstinence from meat on Fridays or desecration of the Eucharist. might be adduced for its stand.

with its huge promise for the health of millions of people. seems instead to lie at one end of a hormonal gradient. and exemplary social behavior. It is present as a small minority in advanced social animals in general. the same genes in their close kin could well stand a better chance of surviving to reproduce because of the presence of homosexual pairs in the flock. why not let premature babies die? Why question stem-cell research. often taken to be either an absolute natural kind or a perversion. revised as proposed here. despite its apparent Darwinian unfitness—how can a propensity to not reproduce be reproductively successful?—been selected out of our gene pools. courageous defense. Konrad Lorenz describes the occasional pair of deeply bonded male greylag geese as playing a very important role in the flock. The implication is that the preservation of what in large doses creates homosexuality is a major adaptive advantage to the species that possesses it. 67 . Homosexuality. when we kill hundreds of potential babies every time we brush our teeth? Natural law. but by quantitative and gradual changes that cross thresholds or tipping-points or bifurcation-points that retrospectively have many of the outward appearances of absolute category frontiers. the whole of which seems to be needed to express the full capacities of the human genome. even though their genes would not be perpetuated in their offspring. From a sociobiological point of view.biological individual? Should the expense of nurture be the deciding factor? If “natural” methods only should be used. tends to make its distinctions not by absolute and eternal boundaries of kinds. It has not. of exploration.

than for reproduction. risky. It does not trouble nature that two such different functions are combined in one organ. traditional Christian natural law stipulated that the organs of generation should not be used for anything but reproduction—this was the basis of the condemnation of homosexuality. even very complex ones. which is part of the process of digestion and excretion. over and above its use for reproduction. though its value as a bonding agent might be legislatively recognized. there are organic problems in the mixing of functions. In making this ruling the Church was able to ignore the fact that the penis is used far more frequently for urination. But it is not normal either. Evolutionary natural law might arrive at some such conclusion as this: homosexuality in nature is a valuable. Ethologists point out that sex has an enormously important bonding function in many social species. poses dangers of infection—i. If the evidence and the logic of such research continues to hold up. Nevertheless. too. but perhaps indispensable variation upon the sexual norm. There is no reason why it should be either suppressed or encouraged.Unlike the old Thomist natural law. the promotion of the asexual reproduction of bacteria and viruses—and may encourage a psychological category confusion between that which benefits the self (the digestive) and that which benefits the species (the reproductive). for instance. Homosexuality is a matter of threshold-crossing in a hormonal balance. and 68 . It is not an unnatural perversion. it might well be that it would be unnatural for government to deny the right of civil union to homosexual couples.e. if by that is meant something that harms species survival. evolutionary natural law is quite happy with mixtures of functions and purposes. rare. anal sex. In the realm of sexuality.

so there is obviously much latitude here. for instance. might well be strongly influenced by the social milieu. but that the exception be honored with a status of its own. High social status baboons have markedly different hormonal and even immunological balances than low status ones. Since sexually active post-menopausal heterosexual couples without children. For instance. perhaps that special category should include them too. in warlike societies boys express more of their more obviously “masculine” characteristics. to far more sugary. and fatty foods than our genes are used to. A society that repressed homosexuality might be unnaturally denying it its adaptive function. survival of the group). The issue of post-menopausal sex rarely came up when the average 69 . alcoholic. and subjecting travelers to violent changes in their biological clocks. are no different.culture can very strongly influence where such a threshold is placed. Of course. and loss of status changes one to the other. might also be placing unnatural constraints on the time-tested balances of nature. or with self-sufficient children. increasing its proportion in the population from its natural 2% to 8 or 10%. too. So homosexuality. as far as natural reproductive functionality is concerned (though bearing their own special responsibility for carrying on the cultural. while a society that encouraged homosexuality. reflecting nature’s own definition of homosexuality as a rare but useful exception. advanced technological societies tolerate all kinds of alterations in our natural conditions. With issues like gay marriage. rather than the biological. in sexually repressive societies girls reach puberty later. a corrected natural law might well suggest that a distinction from reproductive marriage should be preserved. exposing us.

lifespan was shorter; but it is one that cannot be solved consistently in terms of traditional Church teaching on sexuality.

Characteristically, evolutionary natural law has much more room for compromise than Thomist or Enlightenment natural law; but it does not allow it at the cost of abandoning its principles. For instance, evolutionary natural law might be quite strict—even draconic by comparison with our present permissive practice—with regard to the duties, rights, and responsibilities of parents and children. The creation and nurturing of a younger generation is still the core of any natural law. As in our whole evolutionary past as humans, the presence of at least two primary and permanent caregivers is the only optimal condition for our young. Our big brains require long infancies, and thus expensive institutions of child care. New natural law might recognize genetic kinship more widely than it does now, giving siblings, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles, some responsibility in the rearing of the young and some legal rights in their upbringing. New natural law might recommend much higher qualifications in terms of tested moral integrity, education, and even property than are presently required for fertile marriage (not, it should be emphasized, genetic qualifications, for the requirement for variety in our gene-pool trumps any kind of eugenic ambition). Natural law might encourage a wider communal participation in the decision to mate. Abandonment and abuse of children might be treated even more severely, and sanctions better enforced, than at present.


Yet we must remember that large national or even civic governments are not part of our evolutionary history, and that such sanctions are best applied by the local and extralegal institutions of custom and manners. Government could more strictly define and enforce the contractual aspects of marriage and parenthood—the old “breach of promise” rules may look better now than they did—but should not try to make people good. Where natural law might make a more significant legal difference would be in government’s ceasing to defend violators from reasonable measures of disapproval by their own kin and social circle. For instance, natural law would find it very strange that parents in many states are legally kept ignorant of their daughters’ pregnancy and even abortion, while their permission must legally be required for any other (even minor) medical procedure. If, as pro-choice advocates maintain, the fetus is part of the mother’s body (and thus under her disposal), and if parental authority covers the welfare of a minor child’s body, then the parents of a minor child have every right to decide on the future of the fetus.

Judicious deregulation of trade has often been shown to create prosperity by liberating the pricing mechanism and improving real local knowledge of what is economically needed and desired. Wise deregulation of custom and manners might have the same beneficial effect on child-rearing, though it may be as hard to give up our desires to centrally regulate virtue as to centrally plan an economy—we would have to abandon much of “political correctness” for a start. Government should perhaps get out of the business of protecting violators of natural family law from the sanctions and punishments of civil society and custom. Obviously, honor killing, clitoridectomy, and other local


sanctions of certain traditional family structures would still be illegal on the basis of individual rights to life and liberty, which are in turn based on the natural value of human individuality. But we in the West might have to set aside a little of our pride, in recognizing the wisdom and good effects of greater extended-family and community involvement in marriage and child-rearing as seen in places like India and Indochina. Though a government is emphatically not a village, it may still take some equivalent of a village to raise a child and support a family. We might seek ways to incorporate the good effects of informal social sanctions against family-damaging behavior without the loss, for instance, of such goods as women’s rights, children’s freedom to explore new ideas, and social mobility.


which he was able to see as based on nature. Locke’s justification may have provided part of the philosophical and legal basis required by capitalism and the free market.8. the state could prefer it.” He was thus forced to find a justification for property in the authority of the state. and thus contributed to the huge increases in the wealth and welfare of the human species that have resulted from those institutions.” he writes in the Summa Theologica (Second part of the second part. question 66. “but an addition thereto devised by human reason. if communal property worked better. “Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law. however. His well known formula is that if a person mingles his labor with an object previously part of the commons—if only by the plucking of a wild apple from a tree in an ownerless forest—he thereby wrests it from the commons and makes it his property. article 2). 73 . Property Thomas Aquinas could not see a reason in nature for the institution of private property. The state could regulate the orderly disposition of goods. and his explanation becomes a central part of Enlightenment natural law. did find a natural law basis for private property. but its choice of private property as a method was pragmatic and in a sense arbitrary. and so property is natural. John Locke. Foraging is a natural activity.

inhumane. since they after all are the ones who have mixed their labor with the raw materials of the commons. and international-socialist ("Communist"). Hence the widespread contempt for the acquisition of property in both secular and religious circles. which are generally accepted as the higher pursuits of humankind. the intellectual and creative activity of managers. The liberal or humane arts. since ownership and labor are routinely separate. The spiritual challenge is that labor is almost by definition something that one does not want to do. national-socialist (“Nazi”). The Bible specifies labor as one of the punishments of Adam. Of course this vision of things failed catastrophically in all three of its pure forms— fascist. The moral challenge to Lockean economy was even more severe. It is that if property is indeed based on labor.But in basing ownership on labor he left the door open to two huge challenges. and is the core of Marxist and indeed all left wing and much liberal religious ideology. to the grasping and Dickensian world of ruthless materialism and miserable drudgery that is the nightmare of the left? 74 . So if property is based on labor. one spiritual. In an ideal world of proletarian democracy. and the Sabbath. then. and the physical activity of farmers and factory workers would come to be experienced as liberal arts. are both defined as antithetical to labor. Must we revert. then all social systems hitherto have been unjust. though slower and less violent. is no less clear. Workers should own the means of production. which is the time for the expression of human spiritual communion with the holy. artists and scientists could be seen as “labor”. it is literally base—illiberal. the other moral. unholy. and its failure in its mixed left-liberal social-democratic forms.

and that a whole ecosystem can maintain itself in a healthy state. The predictions of their models closely match the observational and experimental data.A revised. were on the contrary always more or less gregarious and at least temporarily settled in one place. Our actual ancestors. human. All organisms require a certain amount of real estate that they are free to forage as their needs dictate. evolutionary natural-law understanding of property may present us with a way out. The key factor here is territoriality. primate. Together these features of our nature suggest a different basis for property. without constant interference by members of their own species (which would be in competition with them over the resources of the ecological niche). Nature could have come up with various rules as the default option to assign such territory. and even mammalian in general. or Rousseau—is that the human being foraging in the forest and taking possession of his food and shelter is always solitary and always wandering. The flaw in all the Enlightenment scenarios of the “the state of nature”— whether in Locke. Hobbes. and thus to avoid a constant and unproductive battle to the death among organisms over resources. Good fighters are not necessarily the best users of the 75 . “Replication dynamicists” who simulate group behavior by game-theory models in reproducing and evolving populations have shown that there are naturally-emerging rules in the disposition of resources. Territoriality is the simplest rule to ensure that a species does not overwhelm its resource base. The very demands of sexual reproduction and live birth constrain some social life and some sense of base or home.

Nature seems to have reinforced this parsimonious and beneficial rule with further metabolic helps. In all known cases the second rule seems to apply. as Konrad Lorenz showed beautifully among cichlids. Consider the proverbial cornered rat.ecological niche in which a species finds itself. Two basic rules to avoid conflict present themselves: The newcomer owns the contested territory. Even a very small animal is provided with the natural courage—the neurochemical reward system—to defend its core territory against a much larger interloper. of knowing its features of tactical advantage. so that infractions can be sanctioned even if it comes to unequal struggle. the current occupier has the advantages of having actively or passively marked the territory. 76 . and in general being able because of experience to make better use of his resources and thus to raise the carrying-capacity of the land for his species. and selection for success in contesting territory might well counteract success in maximizing the species’ numbers and range. Species whose genes do not permit the kind of neural habits and signaling practices that enable efficient sharing of territory will tend to be replaced by species that can use the niche better. and other species. jackdaws. sticklebacks. of being able to choose the place of confrontation and as defender needing only to frustrate the interloper’s plans rather than impose his own. The current occupier owns it.

the basis of U. the intergenerational bond of inheritance. As we noted in regard to the Church’s rulings on abortion. the pleasure of surprise in finding untrodden and unclaimed landscapes. In a democracy eminent domain can overrule the natural rights of territoriality. This point is important.Thus prior occupancy or possession can serve as a natural basis for property.” the dignity of familiarity with a loved place or object. and between 77 . by luck or good judgment. is that it avoids all the problems of the labor theory of ownership.S. Territorial natural law might make courts think twice about assignations of eminent domain. the sacredness of historical association. and sociallyconstructed rules of positive law fail to get a consensus in a human community. Ownership need not then mean illiberal and unholy drudgery. The natural-law fallback position does not prevent flexible exceptions but provides a terminus and test of due process. but only with the legitimate consent of the majority. The big advantage of the principle of prior possession or occupancy (which was. but would not prevent them. the existential experience of “being there. The struggle inherent in the labor theory of property between the claims of manual and intellectual workers. it can now mean the reward for exploration. conventional. the default option and fallback position when the more artificial. and with the burden of proof that the harm of such an invasion and the precedent it sets is outweighed by the advantage to the whole community. natural law does not replace positive law. homesteading and land claim law even before natural territoriality was scientifically investigated).

go into space. The moral right to appropriate one’s neighbor’s territory is greatly weakened. rather than quarrel with the prior possessors on their own ground. disappears. for his possession of it no longer depends on the labor he puts into it. The way to contest another’s monopoly of the existing territory is to invent or create new territory (since human territory is 99% notional anyway) and make one’s own territory more interesting and attractive than that of one’s rival. bandwidth. it was that the West had already 78 . so to speak. Succession rather than violent revolution or appropriation becomes the rule. One of the benefits of copyright and patent is that they force competitors to invent their own territory-creating innovations. nanotechnology. and to claim territory in them by absolute right of first occupancy. And such exploration and superimposition of nonconflicting cultural and economic realms would be beneficial to the whole species. But far from encouraging stagnation and the status quo. considering human imaginative and technological ingenuity.workers in general and owners. Likewise. in its neighbor’s physical territory. or create whole new unlimited worlds of art. the rule provides a powerful incentive for exploration of new ecological niches—whose number and scope are unlimited. virtual reality. Instead of conquering and appropriating other nations’ territory on the basis that one could put more labor into it than they. cyberspace. as Japanese anime has done in ours and baseball has done in Japan. If there was any reason for the triumph of the West in the Cold War. No need to fight the guild of buggymakers: invent the automobile. through trade and intellectual and cultural exchange it might establish new ecological niches. a vigorous nation would be driven to explore the seabeds.

It is common to all men. division of labor. doubts it: This division of labour. contracts. which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion. barter. which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. from which so many advantages are derived. and exchange one thing for another. all the territory one had claimed for oneself. 79 . It is the necessary. is not originally the effect of any human wisdom. whose ideas are at the core of Enlightenment natural law. but relatively shriveled. it belongs not to our present subject to inquire. the propensity to truck. it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of reason and speech. Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human nature of which no further account can be given. leaving intact. This view of things also explains the impotent rage of so many anti-globalist individuals and regimes—one cannot fight a kind of territorial invasion that consists simply in persuasion and attraction. can the same be said for the marketplace. and discard the Enlightenment labor theory. etc? The wise Adam Smith. and to be found in no other race of animals. with its institutions of trade. But if property may be said to have a natural basis in territoriality. though very slow and gradual consequence of a certain propensity in human nature which has in view no such extensive utility.begun unconsciously to embrace the territorial theory of ownership. as seems more probable. or whether.

Even money is. tributes by low-rank pack animals to higher rank ones in exchange for protection and leadership. not to be found in more primal “gift economies”—haggling and trading were always common in every society on earth. Chapter 2. para. Other animals than ourselves do not seem to make contracts in a formal sense. even if it be in flints and bone ornaments. Book 1. but they often act as if contracts are in force.(The Wealth of Nations. Thus the market is itself well grounded in nature. but an extension of them. as theorists since Plato have suggested. among other things a way of recording obligations and the duty of gratitude where human memory can no longer keep track of them. Market exchange is not a different world from gift exchange or barter. and is by no means an alienating and unnatural condition of civilization. Indeed. I argue that the basic language of the marketplace is the same as the basic language of human practical morality itself: 80 . Archeology. 1) Here new scientific research has significantly added to and revised Enlightenment natural law theory. Game-theoretical analysis of animal exchanges frequently shows a very exact balance of mutual profit. Economic anthropology shows that—contrary to the Marxian belief that the market was a late invention of humankind. parental sacrifices for offspring that will repay in terms of genetic survival. Careful sociobiological study of the provision of goods and services within and between animal communities has shown that division of labor and trade do indeed take place among animals—male offerings of resources in exchange for reproductive favors. as I have argued elsewhere. moreover. has been revealing more and more the astonishing ancientness of human trade. and even trade-like exchanges within a troop have all been observed.

and social emotions that characterize the gift and barter exchange systems upon which they are founded. ‘1999.” “dear.” “treasure.” “sacrifice.” “save. might render moot the Romantic-Marxian critique of Enlightenment natural law.” “due. 81 . then. these words.” “grace” preserve within them the values.” “value. make up a large fraction of our most fundamental ethical vocabulary.Such words as “bond.” “balance. and thus remove one large obstacle to human economic progress.” “goods. Indeed.” “fortune.” “redemption. patterns of action. p.” “equity. abstract entities.” “forgive.” “ought.” “venture.” “company.” “will.” “worth.” “risk.” “credit. Oxford University Press. (Shakespeare’s Twenty-First Century Economics.” “partner.” “use.” “interest.” “honor.” “deed.11) A new natural law. qualities.” “thrift.” “fair.” “mean.” “duty.” “obligation.” “royalty.” “owe.” “trust. whose meanings are inseparable from their economic content. “ “redeem.” “issue.

But unless James Lovelock’s Gaia—his proposed super-entity composed of all the world’s species—actually exists. Individual species are notorious for devastating their environment and dying out as a result. most important of all. and. The planet became a snowball more than once in its history. Clearly it is in the natural interest not only of the human species and every individual human. unless some kind of panspermic struggle takes place over billions of years in the arena of interplanetary exchanges of spores. she does not mind such local and temporary catastrophes—in fact those catastrophes are the very way she goes about the business of disciplining infractions of her laws. there need to be laws with a finer resolution. can wipe out most other species in their control and finally exhaust the mineral resources beneath them. such as climax forest. it is hard to see any natural authority that could enforce the laws that would keep the planet healthy.9. If a Gaia-entity exists. and exerts her karmic rule. Environmentalism Environmentalism would seem on the face of it to present an open-and-shut case of the need for natural law. even whole biomes. But who or what keeps her in order? Since Gaia would effectively be a population of one. which would not want to be an object-lesson in corrective extinction. no market discipline. she could have no competition. harnessable natural motivations more 82 . but also of all other living species on the planet. to have a healthy global ecosystem. consequences of more immediate bite. Certainly for a species like ours.

the blue dots had multiplied so swiftly that they had eaten up all the energy in the green energy field. Both good and evil dots were mobile. and a good entity. and without food they suffered a catastrophic die-back and became extinct. that slowly renewed itself. if it were attacked by an evil dot more powerful than itself. it would be destroyed. 83 . on the other hand. it would “convert” an evil dot into a good one. the good dots eventually triumphed even when the initial odds were heavily in favor of the evil dots. would not attack other dots. and ruthlessness they quickly spaced themselves out territorially and were able to survive and maintain a balanced ecosystem. it would destroy its enemy.persuasive than a general piety toward the planet. When an evil dot encountered a dot of either color. and noticed that quite soon after the victory of goodness. Next he created an evil entity. greed. Here. A good dot. Some years ago I heard about a computer game from its inventor. the game showed that altruism paid off in the long run. to demonstrate the beneficial effects of sharing and cooperation. an enthusiast of non-violence. and. But one day my friend ran the program a little longer. As was its initial purpose. the inborn emotions of territoriality may play a vital part. He then tried starting off with only evil dots. would fission into two daughter dots. but if it were itself more powerful. and moved about harvesting the green energy field. represented by a blue dot. again. colored green. represented by a red dot. He created a nutritive space. and there was no more red on the screen. it was programmed to attack it. A heavily engorged dot. if it were stronger (had absorbed more green energy). red or blue. and noticed that in their unrelenting hatred.

Historical evidence for the beneficial effects of private property on environmental goods is not lacking. The natural institution of property.This unintended thought-experiment has implications for natural law that are very interesting. and ecclesiastics kept huge hunting parks and private forests and maintained whole ecosystems in order to preserve the large game and top predators that gave them 84 . aristocrats. Some theorists on both the political left and the political right are already converging on the idea of a property-based environmentalism. As advanced social animals we do indeed value our personal space. Not that we should make a practice of killing our neighbors. European monarchs. regulated and predictable practice. but rather that a beneficial end result can emerge from the collective behavior of many uncooperative and even “ill-intentioned” agents. Territoriality may be the hidden solution to the tragedy of the commons. no central authority is required to do the spacing—it emerges polycentrically from the relations of simple individual agents. with no boss bird or top fish with a gigantic brain whose marshaling decisions would be contested anyway. resent invasion of it by others. if we can find a way to translate the “spacing” effect into fair. whose economic virtues we have already inspected. Flocking birds and schooling fish keep station in the same way. is a formalization of the territorial rule of first possession. and suffer psychologically and hormonally from overcrowding—and that standoffish and possessive attitude might serve as well as the red dots’ “killer instinct” to keep us sanely spaced apart. The beauty of it is that once that simple rule is established. and may be the solution we are looking for.

and might be encouraged to explore. and in the even more crowded subcontinents of India and China. Such theories might propose different goals to be tested—maximal biomass. genetic variety. but even today English financiers.their sport. and deer parks without any necessary concern for the common good. The solution that is being proposed on both left and right is environmental trusts. its self-sustainingness. richness in species. contribution to global species-richness. that without the selfish lust for real property might have been lost. salmon-rivers. could be expected to fulfill their legal mandate to improve their property. a rich variety of species and ecosystems was preserved. that inhabit the land. Of course those days of caste privilege are over. Peter Barnes’ little book Capitalism 3. The trick is to translate into some kind of legal property instrument the environmental interests of the people at large (as opposed to those of the rich alone).0 makes a persuasive case for such trusts. and promote and maintain its biodiversity and ecological health. animal or human. hire and fire managers on the basis of the results. 85 . living biomass. population of higher organisms or of organisms with higher nervous systems. These institutions would buy land. or its inheritance of former ecological or genetic patterns. In that crowded continent. Their trustees. richness of the cultures. in competition with other such trusts. as territorial animals with pride of ownership. fair and square and at market prices. Texan telecom millionaires. different theories of what constitutes ecological value and thus advance the sciences of restoration and reclamation. and German industrialists carefully nurture their grouse-moors. Trustees would judge.

When we recognize. as it applies already to all forms of property. and religious rhythms and values. Environmentalism often relies on a hard and fast distinction between human beings and nature (with an implied label of the harmful for the former and the beneficial for the latter)—a distinction that ultimately harks back to the theory of fixed species embraced by Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastic philosophers of the medieval church. with its social. ritual. as evolutionary theory does. or public but independent of the government. Another aspect of evolutionary natural law might help solve certain philosophical problems that still bedevil the environmental movement. 86 . Natural law. artistic. that humans are themselves part of nature. but the incentives would support. when corrected by evolutionary understanding. legal oversight would apply. an evolved and evolving species among others. Jordan III and Alan Berger now see the issue as being how to situate human nature. human nature. but they would not be commons and would be protected by the possessive instincts of their proprietors. which likewise applies property incentives to environmental goals. has the promise of breaking down the wall of alienation between humans and the rest of nature. the environmental priorities change. In cases of abuse. like the Nature Conservancy. Some wise environmental philosophers like William R. If environmental goods such as clean air and water are no longer treated as externalities but are recognized as common property and given status in tort law—as is the current trend--there will be an increasing incentive for good behavior. is a hopeful sign that such a scheme might work. The success of the current system of pollution credits.Such trusts might be private. within the common ecosystem and the evolutionary process--rather than how to protect nature from humans. not resist.

g. we must first answer others. from some unnatural sphere. say the evolutionary biologists. Only if we abandon the theory of evolution can we assume a radical distinction between humans and the rest of nature. “Good for what? For whom?” It seems to me that two main “stakeholders” have a claim: good for human beings and good for the rest of nature.. But even to put the issue in this way is already to raise problems. does the equation change? Even if we give a priority to the good of nature as a whole. We are another animal species that evolved. that inhabit it? Or—to change the criteria in other ways—the self-sustainability of the place? Its inheritance of former ecological or genetic patterns? Its efficiency in using solar energy? Its independence from the resources of other parts of the planet? 87 . how do we examine the claims of one part of nature (humans) with respect to those of others (e. Are human beings part of nature or not? If not. animal or human. what criteria of goodness do we use? Should we be trying to maximize the biomass of a place? Or its living biomass? Or its richness in species? Or its contribution to the world’s species richness? Or its genetic variety? Or its population of higher organisms? Or of organisms with higher nervous systems? Or the richness of the cultures. rare native fish or insects)? Is a forest of humans—a suburb—more or less valuable than a forest of conifers? If there are lots of suburbs but only a few of that species of conifer. what is good environmental policy? In order to answer this question.In this perspective. So we must assume that humans are part of nature. then we must adopt some theory by which human beings were somehow injected into nature from some sphere that is outside of nature. If humans are as natural as anything else.

thereby giving us the top position in a hierarchy of judgment.” signaling ecological soundness lower down. Genetic variety speaks more directly to the health and adaptiveness of a living biome. a landscape that consists only of a billion species of moss and lichen. Living biomass avoids the definitional problems involved in the criterion of biomass: is a caddisworm’s jacket of gravel part of its body. Higher organisms act not only as a ”canary. but also as indexes of several other factors cited as evidence of environmental value. In the same spirit. Contribution to species richness remedies the logical incompleteness of the criterion of species richness. or not? is a termite’s nest biomass? what about dead heartwood? My artificial hip joint? The undigested material in an owl’s stomach? Richness in species is.Each criterion has its own justifications. The formula ”organisms with higher nervous systems” sharpens the vague term ”higher organisms” and also implies a criterion of what we might call ”epistemic value”: a landscape observed by sentient inhabitants may be worth more than a landscape with no observers. for obvious reasons. Self-sustainability has the advantage of appealing to the sense of peace and balance that we associate with nature. for instance. our common ecological measure. with wildly various genetic codes. and this criterion avoids the problem of overvaluing. Sheer biomass has the advantage of not putting us humans in the position of judging which biological material outranks which. The inheritance of past patterns of life has scientific value. 88 . the cultural criterion of systemic value is sharper still: social animals that can share their observations may be better observers than solitary ones.

The difference between the number of bytes required to describe the “cause state” and the number required to describe the later “effects state” is the measure not only 89 . A eutrophicated pond might use solar energy very efficiently indeed. how should we rank them or weight them with respect to one another? Upon what principles? Principles derive from a deep understanding of something. the laws of nature (which are themselves the historical result of earlier cause-effect events) constrain those possible effects but do not reduce them to one. more nervous systems. A suburb might have more genetic diversity. distributed in number and intensity according to their probability. along a bellshaped curve. Each priority would yield different policies. Barren rock might be very self-sustaining. A single cause can have multiple effects. Or should we be trying to create Jurassic Parks? If we accepted all the priorities I have mentioned.Efficiency in converting solar energy is more easily measurable by physicists. and gets us out of the philosophic tangle already manifest in this discussion. might be outranked in the ”living biomass” criterion by other biomes. All the effects that do not completely neutralize one another take place. such as a swamp or a fish farm. The biomass of a climax forest. But should we burn down climax forests to make room for more biodiverse prairies and savannas? A botanical garden might have more species yet—and more endangered ones. And ”independence” has a nice ring of robustness about it. A few species with rich and complicated genomes of many strains might have more genetic variety than a large number of monoclonal species. more culture. in which most of the carbon is sequestered in dead heartwood.

of the increase in its entropy. However. an event can bring about a set of effects that are either mutually reinforcing or dissonant. 90 . Good environmental policy creates the greatest freedom consistent with the richest order in the effect-state it produces. we may call it a “barren order”.” a single possible effect. i. If that state of mutual reinforcement limits the number of new effects. Thus. if there are many “branches. but also in the amount of new information that has entered the world.” the system has free play to that extent).” The biological definition of evolutionary-reproductive success is very similar: as many offspring as is consistent with the survival-to-reproduce of the offspring’s offspring..e. the mutual reinforcement of those effects is the measure of its informational (as opposed to its thermodynamic) order. That difference also describes the degrees of freedom of the initial state (if there is only one “branch. and of that offspring’s offspring in turn. if it makes possible a further set of mutually reinforcing but productive effects. a basis for deciding what is or is not good environmental policy. the system has no freedom. we have a theoretical basis for choosing one set of actions in the environment over another. we may call it a “rich order.

Locke. especially as regards the “state of nature” and the social contract. Exchanges and deals in general. were not considered natural by Enlightenment thinkers (though they are considered so by many modern evolutionists).10. as we can gather from studies of gorillas and chimpanzees. there are interesting implications for political philosophy. Because 91 . Enlightenment natural law disagreed—indeed. unless they were lost or in temporary absence from their tribe. with its hierarchical and providential premises. Here we must take a look at what evolutionary natural law might tell us about the state of nature. There never were solitary humans wandering through forests. the concept of the state of nature as a prior or underlying touchstone of political philosophy is discredited even as a thought experiment. In any case. we had to leave the state of nature in order to create governed societies. Thomist natural law. So either there never was a “state of nature” in the Enlightenment sense. as we have seen. So if a contract is a deal. regarded the state as based upon nature. Not even our primate ancestors lived in a solitary and uncovenanted condition. Locke’s demolition of Robert Filmer’s theory of natural patriarchy as the basis of rightful government is the necessary prologue to his proposal of the social contract. it was by definition not natural. in Hobbes. and Rousseau alike. or we never left it. Government What might evolutionary natural law have to say about government? If it does have anything to say.

and the natural personal loyalty to the leader experienced by pack animals (which in part we are). I believe. through mate choice. Leadership. Many other little surprises are in store. Rank and leadership are frequent throughout the animal kingdom. We were always naturally social and cultural—naturally artificial. But that sociality. the continued unfolding of human possibilities and freedoms. has its own rules and principles. that artificiality. if they are adhered to. one might say. that maintain. are vital to the basic hunter-gatherer band. our archeological past and our anthropological present. the small business. a new natural law must be based not on some allocation of nature and nurture but on the health of the process of feedback that confuses them. tribal competition. They are still vital to our basic forms of cooperative endeavor—the army company. and differential survival of offspring. This is not to say that we cannot find out much about ourselves by looking at our genes. seniority. the 92 .culture. if we follow the logic of evolutionary natural law where it leads us. we cannot at any point disentangle our natural and our cultural traits. our brains. An evolutionary natural law would seek to elucidate those rules and principles. affected our genetic nature as much as or more than our genes affected our cultural capacities. as are exchange and barter. Evolutionary natural law might take a position between the Thomist and Enlightenment views on the naturalness of the political state. just as Aristotle did so wisely in his Politics—even though he lacked an evolutionary science and had to make do with the analogy of fetal development and maturational growth alone.

At this point the enlargement of a natural bond has crossed a crucial threshold where natural law must begin to be replaced by positive law. Our idealism about secular government. In a hunter-gatherer band of under 150 persons. In this context “anti-evolutionary” can have horrific meanings. the hospital ward. the ship’s crew. by policing. 93 . wars that overshoot their natural constraints of territoriality and revenge. by improved weaponry. nourished since the Renaissance.academic department. and so on. But the leader is leader because of the consensus of the band—if the consensus dissolves. was appallingly dashed in the last century by the devastating carnage wrought by the hypertrophied nation-state. If freedom is. by long-distance recorded and duplicated communications. Not so with a city of ten thousand or a nation of ten million. as we have argued. one of the fundamental characteristics of the evolutionary process—if the branching-out of an earlier state of affairs into many alternative later states of affairs is the sine qua non of natural variety—then leadership. and by economic surpluses supporting priest and warrior castes. the theater company. Here the dangers of arbitrariness multiply: abuse of human natural rights. But at this level the element of voluntary consensus begins to disappear. the invention of invalid natural rights. so does the leadership. can become antievolutionary. Leadership can be amplified by the technological and political instruments of art. by bureaucracy. everyone can be in a position to personally trust the leader. when amplified across the threshold of a few hundred led persons. the football team. and a pronounced loss of freedom.

The marketplace had already found a way to manage the transition from personal obligation-based exchanges of goods to buying. a distributed calculating machine or self-adjusting artificial neural network that required no more than everyone’s behaving to suit himself but which gave a precise signal of how much value (according to the collective wisdom) was inherent in one’s own and others’ goods. The “genes” of the marketplace are such things as the rules of contract and tort. and investment. partnership. But of course it has to be the right set of proteins—the baby eagle cannot be generated by oak-tree genes. Money was a fairly accurate numerical measure of at least those benefits that can be agreed on and shared between different persons. in this case market exchange. bonds and stocks. but there was a change from one kind of society into another—from the natural band. Thus the marketplace is a sort of 94 . selling. as state-of-nature contract theorists believed. limited liability. abstract instruments such as coinage. It is analogous to the emergence out of the chaotic interactions of embryonic proteins of a fetus and then an adult. and methods such as advertising. and hiring.There never was a fall from nature into society. into the modern authoritarian state with its dangerous propensity for totalitarian tyranny and wholesale destruction. a “free” form of organization that precipitates out of a nonlinear dynamical system. united by personal loyalty. Pricing is a classic case of an emergent order. and may do so in unusual terms. Pricing turned out to be an amazing bonus. What guidance is offered by evolutionary natural law to ensure that positive laws do not frustrate human flourishing? Here we must acknowledge the astonishing genius of the American constitution. the institutions of banking. and merger. insurance.

second nature or second biology. as in any market. but the exchange rate will favor the political vote (which is one to a customer and exercised only every two years or so. Politicians in our democratic system “buy” votes and voters “buy” politicians—but this is not an abuse of the system but a description of it. by observing how the market worked and abstracting its principles for political use. but in the political medium. had already intuited much of this. and patrician detachment. There is no point in buying a legislature if it 95 . but much piety is wasted on decrying the mercenary element of democratic politics that is its very essence. Certainly. We should not be surprised when people find ways to exchange one currency into the other. and elections are the political equivalent of the pricing mechanism. a new form of evolution evolving out of the first and in turn acting as a selective pressure upon the first. they anticipated the discovery of evolution. with their combination of business expertise. Essentially. A piece of legislation is an actual bargain at an agreed price. while in the former we have as many as the dollars we have acquired. there are permissible and impermissible forms of buying and selling. and thus has scarcity value) over the economic one. We should not What complain when somebody else’s bid in the auction is higher than our own. a vote is the political equivalent of a contract. Whether consciously or unconsciously. essentially distinguishes the economic market from the political one is that in the latter we have only one vote each. they created a political system that mimicked the marvelous organic capacities of the market—in a way. The framers of the American Constitution. high amateur economic scholarship. so not much harm is done.

which for large groups had become evolutionarily counterproductive. and no point in buying enough voters to get elected if the power is not worth it. It is very difficult for a true democracy to maintain a personality cult of the chief executive. which they regarded as not natural. The state. The value of traditional “state of nature” theory. Thus democratic free market nations can claim some justification in natural law. 96 . was renaturalized. the market. with a system that did not suffer the same unnatural diseconomies of scale. they brought contracts. i. as long as they and their citizens and their institutions of civil society remain free to evolve. so to speak. then. Paradoxically. was not in any correspondence with anthropological fact. to the aid of monarchy. which had become unnatural because of the distortions of monopolistic propaganda and coercion required to maintain it.costs more than one is likely to get out of it.e. which they regarded as natural—when evolutionary natural law would argue that it was contracts that were natural and monarchy that had become unnatural. but in turning the minds of political philosophers toward the nature of contracts and thus to the nature of the marketplaces where contracts first emerged. So essentially the framers had ingeniously supplemented the ancient natural system of pack rank and leadership.

and signals infractions by the blush. Human beings all over the world. when tested in experimental nonzero-sum games. Emotions. tend to give their opponent a chance to cooperate—in other words. Mother-love is notoriously self-sacrificial. Sympathy is costly but hard to resist and essential to a social species. and nurture. Male bonding can save the hunting band at the cost of the individual hunter. the emotion of fellow-feeling outweighs individualistic rationality in a way that ends up benefiting the species. game theory tells us that in many nonzero-sum games (like “Prisoners’ Dilemma”) the most rational strategy—the one that “wins”—is the most selfish and treacherous one. The negative emotions play the same role: the threat of sexual jealousy tends to ensure the genetic connection of father and child. Shame enforces good behavior in the eyes of others. however. even though the sum of the rewards for both players would be greater if they altruistically cooperated. For instance. and the father’s assistance to the mother in 97 . are the prudential rationality—even the morality!--of the species. Punishment and War Among the consequences of the rise of the new replication dynamics and their implications for evolutionary psychology is a renewed interest in human emotions. Once denigrated as remnants of an animal nature we must transcend. they now appear in a different light. More obviously. the high metabolic cost of mating and reproducing—which benefits the species at the expense of the individual—is outweighed by the emotions of sexual desire. one might say. tenderness. designed to counterbalance the selfishness of the individual.11.

neither player gets anything. The first player has the option of keeping any fraction of the sum for himself. if given to people in different ethnic and national groups. test the extent to which the preparedness of individuals within such a group to sanction bad behavior affects the estimate by the first player of what will be considered fair by the second (see Joseph Henrich et al. Investigators demonstrate the existence of costly punishment by having people play a sharing game with strangers under controlled experimental conditions. rage discourages it in others. The second player can either accept what is left over or refuse. and may well account for the extraordinary cooperativeness of the human species. A significant sum of money is offered to a pair of players.childrearing. 1767-1770). the more willing people are in a given society to punish unfair behavior at considerable cost to themselves. Viewed in this light. acquisitiveness builds a capital resource base. the emotion that drives what is known as “costly punishment” becomes a potentially valuable resource for creating cooperative and peaceful societies. If he refuses. The evidence strongly suggests that such costly punishment is a human universal. explains cases where altruism due to shared genetic inheritance or profitable consequences of a good reputation are ruled out as factors. the more cooperative such a society is. fear preserves our lives in dangerous situations.” Science. pp. which had been something of a mystery to researchers. 23 June 2006. The game essentially tests and measures the sacrifice the second player makes in order to punish perceived unfair sharing by the first player. It can also. “Costly Punishment Across Human Societies. 98 . shame discourages bad behavior in oneself. This cooperativeness.

and what is its basis? Both Thomist and Enlightenment natural law contain justifications for warfare that flow from their premises. justifies the settling of 99 .To put it brutally. if anything. even heinous criminals should receive no punishment if they are no longer capable of committing the crime again)? Is it the rehabilitation of the criminal? The proper moral measure of the crime? An act of restitution or reciprocity. The problem with Enlightenment natural law is that its principle of human reason as the master of natural function. If we apply this ugly fact to the ethics of justice and the institutions of the law (both within and between nations). and that reason is itself based on the natural thirst for revenge. for instance. the appetite for revenge leads collectively to good behavior. One is the issue of what. which society impersonalizes into the noble ideals of justice. or righting the balance? Strong arguments exist for and against all these positions. Is it the protection of the rest of society by the restraint of the criminal (if so. which we have come to learn is one of the greatest evils of the world. and that is as a deterrent to crime. led to the elevation of the State into the summum bonum and could encourage states that believed they had more rational and efficient systems to invade and subjugate societies they believed to lack them—for their own good. The same reasoning applies on a larger scale to the ancient issue of justice between nations—is there such a thing as just war. and its goal of universal human welfare. Locke. The problem with Thomist natural law was that it could not rule out religious war. certain traditional controversies seem to become moot. justifies prison sentences and other forms of durance or suffering inflicted upon criminals. But a natural law based on evolved moral emotions would suggest that there is one basic reason for punishment.

historicist or social-constructionist grounds argued that humans could make up the rules as they went along (as long as they could win in battle and so be around to write them). the widespread abandonment of natural law included the abandonment of the concept of just war. It was abandoned both by aggressors who on pragmatist.North America in terms of the greater productiveness of “civilized” than “savage” labor methods. In the twentieth century. in which democratic populations. self-defense. in colonial war and mercantile slavery. One last shred of the old natural law. as we have seen. lent powerful support to both. of course. adding to the power to terrify of the aggressor and to the prudential appeal of the pacifist. Hence the peculiar and necessary hypocrisy of the West. the competition between labor and ownership superseding the competition between states. This justification resulted. However. The horrors of modern war. The preservation of the institution of property was discredited as a valid natural justification for war. The crusader’s or jihadist’s religious justifications for war were no longer available to modern secular states. The just war concept would seem to be a necessary resource for the preservation of any kind of moral or legal order in the world. which desperately did not want nuclear confrontation with the expansivist totalitarian regimes. was rescued from the wreck of the rest 100 . continued to vote for governments who threatened retaliatory destruction that was morally repugnant to their electorates. the pronounced asymmetry of these positions was obvious to all—the unjust would surely destroy the just if the actions of both were consistent with their views. and by pacifistic liberals who argued that no war could be just. culminating in the use and threat of nuclear weapons.

automatically cancel the superiority. in the wake of the post-structuralist destruction of all founded principles.” brought the hypocrisy to an end. The best we had been able to do toward the end was to try to cobble up a moral system from the very requirements for discourse about it.and enshrined as the basic principle of just war. Perhaps self-defense would serve as a sufficient reason to maintain. in terms of pacifist ethics. an armory. proposed the 101 . We were supremely lucky. in the absence of an accepted deity whose favor would confirm the moral superiority of one side. could have no justification either in terms of Thomist natural law or in terms of Enlightenment practical reason in pursuit of human betterment. the damage already being done. would not help. What could “self-defense” mean when offensive weapons so dominated defensive ones? Only a preemptive attack could bring any assurance of safety for a morally superior regime—but such an attack would. But such a second strike. the only recourse would be after the fact to launch an equally terrible attack upon the enemy. So swift and so devastating would a first strike be that defense against it would be futile. our moral and legal resources had dried up. And even Thomist natural law. who acted to perfection the part of the devil-may-care aggressor and so won the great game of “chicken. Only the economic collapse of the Soviet empire—the consequence of its belief in the labor theory of property—and the remarkable theatrics of Ronald Reagan. But here human moral reason was increasingly being overtaken by technological progress and hard facts on the ground. if not to use. Thinkers like Richard Rorty and Jürgen Habermas.

which in practice would mean a free civil society that had already collectively resigned any claim to a foundation for truth or moral conduct. Perhaps that movement does not yet pose the dangers of international communism. I call it risky. or that 102 . who knew exactly what was right already. the world Wahhabist movement.ingenious theory that though conversation could never come to a point or a conclusion. So one could build a set of provisional rules out of the imperative to keep the conversation going. and regarded the conversation as decadent and the conversationalists as easy prey? Holland and Britain have recently paid a high price for this mistake. its prolongation would at least ensure the existence of the conversationalists. For indeed a new threat has already arisen. But of course such a theory could only work in a group of conversationalists who already wanted to keep such a conversation going. because of the danger that decent humane societies might decide to live up to their principles and thus go down to destruction at the hands of the unenlightened. quite certain of its principles. and what they wanted. What did one do with people who were not in the least interested in an inconclusive conversation. But what moral or legal grounds might we have for the kind of pre-emption that would be needed to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorist regimes and a replay of the Cold War with an even more reckless adversary? A new natural law could propose a solution—or at least set out a framework for moral and legal reasoning—that might help avoid such risky hypocrisy in the future. and might still be neutralized without the moral chaos of nuclear confrontation between destructively equal opponents. and not at all interested in conversation with us.

The emotion of revenge plainly overrides in most cases the selfish rational interests of the vengeful injured one. As we have seen. As we have seen. fear. (“Jihad.aggressive societies with absolutist beliefs might call their bluff. because of their humanistic. shame. It was perhaps the driving force behind the gradual emergence of justice itself. and continues to be the motivational fuel of justice. Something of the kind might have been the case with the 9/11 attacks. High-minded ethicists of many stripes hasten to erect a high barrier between revenge and justice. But to allow the injury go unavenged would let the aggressor off the hook. 103 . when coupled with fear. That vengeful emotion is not evil. is quite consistent with Thomist just war theory!) We need principles that can help us establish what is and is not a just war and that do not require us to violate them in order to survive. like territoriality. of effective retaliation. alone. It has an evolutionary function. one of the most powerful emotions of all is the desire for revenge.” ironically. that can form the basis of a natural-law concept of just war. is a very powerful sanction against treacherous or aggressive behavior. revenge. or sympathy—in fact it is in an odd way an unselfish and altruistic emotion. where weak and ineffective prior responses to terrorism had convinced the attackers that their victims were incapable. who has already shown his potential for harm. prudential and pragmatic reason. an evolutionary natural law might regretfully but tough-mindedly erase the barrier while preserving the theoretical distinction. who would be better off leaving his enemy. to do more mischief to other members of the tribe. any more than are desire.

and prevent the originating crimes and their consequences in the future. oddly enough. fear. Without the driving force of revenge and its excesses. revenge. our excesses of sexual desire drove us to cultivate love. 104 . our acquisitive urges drove us to invent the ordered marketplace and productive trade. and have led in all societies to the creation of institutions to corral it—and out of those institutions has come the concept of justice. and out of that the concept of mercy. But this should not. can feed upon itself and become obsessive and destructive.) A natural-law theory of just war might be based upon the recognition of revenge as in itself a positive and valuable thing. such as desire. shame. but as the incentive in the given situation to construct some security arrangement that will in future limit the ravages of revenge. our jealousy led to marriage and the family. Its excesses in international crises should be taken not in condemnation of the avenger. For the evil results of blood feud are obvious to all. even in its shining armor of justice. be a reason to try to eliminate the revenge instinct. If the revenge gets out of hand. At present our cobbled-up system of moral maxims —if one can call them a system or even maxims—has little recourse but to berate the avenger and ridicule his shamefaced self-justifications and prudential rationalizations. The blood feud and its magnificent dramatizations in Elizabethan revenge tragedy and contemporary film thrillers show how prone this emotion is to fall into destructive positive feedback cycles.Like any other emotion. then this is a sign to the world that better institutions are needed to placate the injured and resentful avenger. and so on. acquisitiveness. Kleist’s great tale of Michael Kohlhaus is a classic example. love. our fear to good walls and decent medicine. (In like fashion. we might never have developed justice.

concedes that the injured has a right to his revenge. then maybe important and needed sanctions will fall into place. more primitive. we know to be still more enraging to the injured one. or one whose emotions. in recognition of the evolutionary wisdom of nature. may erupt into a more terrible and inexplicable violence still. and especially. The virtue of evolutionary natural law reasoning is that it would call a spade a spade. fanatical jihadists—recognizes the justice of revenge.Such scolding. It might be objected at this point that territoriality and revenge are precisely the motivations at the core of our most bitter conflicts—paradigmatically. and in the season of their festival they keep their rages and their dance. but one whose body will infect others with deadly diseases. unrecognized and thrust into the shadows. Only after “an eye for an eye. for we all know the vengeful feeling in ourselves. in personal terms. The Furies are not banished but become the Eumenides. One great advantage if this approach is that everybody—even. the IsraeliPalestinian one—and that to rehabilitate those evils is to throw oil on the flames. would enable us to confront problems with 105 . but recognizes them as the necessary fuel and microstructure of higher ones. A society that rejects them is a society whose emotions are so shriveled that it cannot protect or reproduce itself. Evolutionary morality does not discard older. There is no need for Rortian conversations about it. This objection misses the point of the analysis here. and a tooth for a tooth” is given its proper recognition and sway can “turn the other cheek” be possible. A totally nonviolent human being is one without an immune system and will not live long. emotions and sanctions. But if the world.

The usual social-constructionist explanations of the conflict can be seen as smokescreens that obscure the fundamental issues. if our knowledge of human natural emotions dictated it. when investigated. it is to indicate the huge range of its relevance. neither Enlightenment reason nor the Romantic demotion of reason will be effective. A new natural law might lead to better ways of understanding such seemingly intractable problems. Territoriality did become sublimated into property and profitable trade. The absolute separation of the warring parties for a generation might be one solution. The Mideast conflict is so bitter precisely because territoriality and revenge are such powerful and necessary and often beneficial natural motivators. Revenge did become sublimated into institutions of justice. and more realistic and patient ways of dealing with them. In the absence of sound knowledge of our nature. and the vocabulary and rules it might provide for discussing and even solving some of our most intractable moral. 106 . legal and cultural problems. Or fair material compensation for territorial losses might work still. evolutionary natural law might enjoin. is not to second-guess its conclusions. Does this point imply that the problem is simply intractable and that we must throw up our hands in defeat and accept the continuance of violence and injustice? Not at all. social. Rather. The point of all these speculations about what.the right tools of analysis.

Religion and State Another area in which natural law might be of help in disentangling the issues would be in the uneasy relationship between government and religion. regarded other religions as rival contracts that must be suppressed or as folk superstitions. moral rules. can give us useful comparisons. part of our animal nature. that should be regulated by a wiser secular law. which came to see the state as an improvement on religion. Again. the solutions of Thomist and Enlightenment natural law. Revolutionary America separated church and state as much for the protection of churches as for the integrity of the state. Enlightenment natural law saw government as the enactment of a contract which in its very origins withdrew us from the state of nature and which must ignore any other special bindings into which its citizens might have entered as private and irrelevant. revolutionary France. Our natural moral sentiments could be trusted to ensure good 107 . and the grand modernist experiment of doing without natural law altogether. and traditions. including commitments to particular religious revelations. Thus it was the duty of government to establish and preserve religion.12. Thomist natural law regarded government as justified by natural law only on the ground and condition that government served the divine creator of the world and obeyed his laws as expressed in revelation.

In his hand Brutus holds the death-warrant of his sons. The paintings of Jacques-Louis David nicely illustrate the ethos of the Enlightenment at the moment that its internal tensions were to disrupt it and the Romantic reaction began.behavior if the government preserved the social contract. Western religion actually cooperated in its own marginalization. the personification of the State. and the sense of honor and shame. Between Brutus and his dead sons is an effigy of the only deity in the painting. who have supported Tarquin. family ties. professionalized. but like sexual desire. in whose shadow Brutus sits: it is Roma. ignores his own family in their tragedy and suppresses his natural emotions in a higher cause. religious ties were expected to subordinate themselves to the state. In The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons Brutus. having crowned himself. for David the epitome of rational service to the state and civic virtues. In an attempt to stay in the good books of the intelligentsia and the bureaucratic elite. It is the superior authority of the state that confers recognition both on the religious bonds of natural superstition and on the affectional bonds of natural sexuality and reproduction. 108 . and religious philosophers cut the ancient ties between Christian orthodoxy and traditional folk religion. church intellectuals. theologians. now crowns his consort Josephine. In The Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine Napoleon. the consecrated monarch of the ancien régime. the compositional counterweight against Brutus’ grieving wife and daughters. If religion could become abstract enough. the bishops of the Church are present but they play no active part in the ritual.

loving. In Jesus he is a parable-maker. not a promulgator of a metaphysics or a code of law. and of the rivers and morning hills of Zion. jealous. Behemoth and Leviathan. and purged of emotionalism. sacred places. immateriality—religion distanced him from nature and divorced him from natural law. perhaps it might continue to be permitted by the powerful nation states with their confident new ideologies of reason. omnipresence. This great miscalculation was not justified at all in terms of the Biblical roots of western religion. and above all. romantic nature-worship. magic. The instruments of salvation are his body and 109 . official religion had marginalized itself out of the very arena where all the action was going to take place—science. In redefining God in metaphors drawn from mathematics and abstract physics—infinitude. He is a passionate God. and terrifying companion in the history of the world— he speaks out of the whirlwind and takes pride in the creation of the horse. slow to anger but wrathful when aroused. In redefining human service to God as Kantian disinterestedness and pure practical reason based on universal maxims. his language is of mustard seeds and growing corn. belief in natural spirits and miraculous cures. The God of Abraham. technology. merciful.rational. an insatiable lover of humanity. devotion to hearth and family. timelessness. of vines and sheep and oxen. religion detached morality from natural sentiment. and the belief in the immanence of the spirit in landscape and human passions that was to energize the arts for a hundred years. But in marginalizing itself out of nature. Isaac and Jacob is a god of family lineage. But it would have to stop being a nature religion. of flocks and herds. with all the trappings of sacrifice. He is not an abstraction outside time. but a close. the eagle.

local loyalty.blood and passion. official religion was rejected too. for the modernists we were tabulae rasae. with its traditional retinue of moral sentiments. was viewed as a social construction devised by the powerful to dominate the powerless (or. The modernist rejection of natural law included a rejection of even our moral sentiments. an addiction that needed to be stamped out altogether. as “bourgeois false consciousness. religion defined itself out of physical existence as supernatural. For totalitarian regimes based on these ideas religion was a disease. 110 . having descended in three generations into sentimental ornateness and the lunatic heroism of World War I. toward the more fullblooded Christianity of the Middle Ages. family feeling. Instead the Romantics turned back toward the old pagan religions. both official and unofficial religion were consigned by the avant garde to the trashcan of historical unfashionability. Even tender-heartedness. toward Dante and the gothic cathedrals and the religions of the Orient. not some mental technique of metaphysical detachment. devised by the weak to hamper the strong).” and discarded by the truly dedicated party cadre. the urge for freedom and the search for truth—once thought to be parts of our nature— were now to be mistrusted as part of the mystifications of religion. And when Romanticism itself. possessiveness. A true people’s democracy would one day construct the correct and ideal versions of these sentiments. Paradoxically. in Nietzsche. aesthetic pleasure. So when the romantic rejection of reason came. blank slates with no human nature in the first place. as pure reason. in turn succumbed to the now-routine recycling of history. Human nature.

in alliance with the secular state. In the arts.whose earlier appearances were merely justifications of oppressive economic and technological arrangements. maintained that sex itself was a social construction and attempted to replace the word 111 . More democratic modernist regimes. Indeed. was atrocity on an unprecedented scale. their selective financial support of private educational and cultural institutions. In law. the result of this intellectual experiment. with surviving private sectors. did not attempt to enforce such methods. when tried out on millions of people. Needless to say. But things did not go simply. and the nourishing of a caste of public servants. but were content to promulgate the basic philosophy—the social construction of reality—through their public education systems. the Greens played an important part in the liberation of Eastern Europe from the secular communist bureaucracies that oppressed it. One branch of feminism. opposed the other branch which. postrmodernism undermined the idea that there might be a natural reality out there to represent. The Green or environmental movement was in a strange way the reassertion of the ancient human belief in the religious significance of nature and the reality of the natural world and natural moral sentiments. and thus to name things or persons wrongly is to commit a crime against society’s mission of reality-construction. in which things are what they are named as being. These servants were indoctrinated with a radical secularism that was not just a means of judicious impartiality but a cultural crusade. which asserted the essentially natural quality of the female and its important or even superior role in maintaining the moral sentiments. political correctness enforced a sort of semantic idealism.

were attempts to root and ground moral ideas once more in nature. over time. research into the neuropsychology of religious practice and commitment. adding greater articulation and systems of communication and cross-generational transmission to the burgeoning religious instinct. Driven by the adaptive spur of ritual. win the competition at cooperation and efficient use of resources over groups of more selfish individuals.” Nature-based racism reemerged in the ideologies of blackness and la raza. How might evolutionary natural law help with the obvious problems raised by these developments? The cross-cultural study of human religion. in their basic philosophical passion. Games-theory modeling of moral behavior in sexually reproducing social species predicts the emergence of higher laws. Groups with these latter capacities would. arts would develop. 112 . and the archeological investigation of ancient cult practices all seem to indicate that religion is natural to the human species. All three. and idealization. sympathy. and could be seen as outcroppings of a religious urge. Genes consistent with altruism and the devotion to higher ideals would become established. Those few societies that have explicitly rejected religion have ended up very rapidly making a religious cult of their secular leaders or state symbols.with “gender. loyalties. collective signaling systems and representations that can constrain the selfish or merely nepotistic motivations of the more ancient and primitive elements of our nature and subordinate them to more recent instincts of cooperation.

as secular believers in reason must submit. cultural. for human beings. If it turns out we do indeed have a religious instinct to believe in non-provable entities and engage in ritual behavior. to bring the world back to himself as it evolves through his providence. its mystery. as intelligent beings with equal access to reality. even a right. it would be quite consistent for God to have created the parameters of the universe and thus the directionality of time and of the evolutionary process in such a way as to foster the emergence of a religious instinct and a religious need. if theistic religion. religion may well be a natural need. stripping it of its vital elements—its claim to truth. to the implications of the research. its call to something higher than species survival. and political arena. then we will need to take this need into account when acting in the social. I have demeaned it. were objectively true. atheists and agnostics might well find it very valuable and supportive of their beliefs to be able to account for the prevalence of religion on the basis of a biological need rather than on the not unreasonable inference that religious people. I am aware that readers on both sides of our current religious divide might be inclined to enter a protest at this point.If this speculative account is a correct guess at what scientific research might yield as a basis for natural law. even if we believe the explicit content of religious belief is wrong. Non-religious readers may suspect that I am smuggling in religion as a biological need. for instance. I can only submit. may be right. to serve the ulterior motive of religious commitment to a political and social agenda. Indeed. Here I might respond that none of those things are excluded by the above account—indeed. 113 . A religious reader might object that in describing religion as some primitive system of biological survival. Here.

though. to be based on one of two foundations: what is good. Laws seem. experiment. the distinction can be found in the difference between our own two traditions. it needs to provide its members the opportunity for participation in religious observance and self-consecration. so. of Roman law. and might therefore be acceptable also to believers in non-theistic religions. atheists. and what is right. the above account of religion intentionally confines itself to the kind of thing that might be proven by observation. and agnostics. perhaps. If religion is a need. and thus enable constructive cooperation among everybody of goodwill: surely a goal to be affirmed by all God’s children. and English common law. we have to make a distinction. The state is not necessarily the proper enforcer or guarantor of human rights. implicit in our earlier discussion of political economy. Legal 114 . and the code of Hammurabi. Here. Here we need a distinct analysis of the law of the good and the law of the right. further back. Very roughly. and an effective society needs to give its members the maximum freedoms consistent with good order. If the state is dangerous always except when it operates through some sort of pricing/voting mechanism—and not always then either--to give it responsibilities that require the use of powers that could suppress our natural trading instincts might be very unwise. just as a society needs to be able to supply to its members food and shelter and the opportunity to reproduce in order to operate at all. as many philosophers have opined. and well-constructed modeling. between the ancient Hebrew ritual law. In other words.Moreover. it may indeed be a right.

the right. Solonic. emphasizes the good. one that is still continuing in the Jewish community. especially if we are talented. God had evidently found something lacking. by Humanity. Perhaps the law of goodness was to be kept. learned. enforced by the civil authorities of ancient Israel.experts will. which can be identified roughly with the Hammurabic. on the other. not in the hands of armed enforcers. in later ages. but in the human heart and soul 115 . is between what is commanded of us by the gods or God (or. forgive the many exceptions to these generalizations. by Reason. and our practical agreed systems of mutual trust. our markets. trained. The former. for a time. sees laws as the way to make sure the humble contracts that human beings make with each other have the support they need over and above the natural sanctions built into our families. But with the destruction of the Israelite monarchy in 587 BC. for their usefulness as an analytic tool of thought. and morally upright. The distinction. even more generally. by Nature. the second. and what is required of us in the honest fulfillment of a contract. sees law as a way to enforce the good—the good as a transcendent endowment of human society that we can partly intuit. which finds its Western origins in ancient Israel (and can be found also in the Confucian legal system of ancient China). The latter. The first The Jewish moral law was. I hope. in the literalism and the abuses of a law that afforded so much power to the authorities and left so little to the spontaneous free choice of just individuals. a profound reevaluation of the laws of goodness began. and English Common Law traditions. the Prophets said. or by Popular Will) on one hand.

Finally the Empire itself simply could not manage without it. It gave much authority over to local magnates. of a great burden of its literalism and legalism. However. and kept their free ethical observance of the law of the good to themselves—until the coming of the Jewish State in the twentieth century. would be enforced by the State. which began with a purely internal and voluntary law of the good—love thy neighbor—had inherited the inner ideals of the old Jewish moral law. to become the secular enforcer of Christian moral law. and dons. the Emperor). Christians believed. But it was purged now.enlightened by the inner voice of Adonai. As the Roman Empire crumbled. and was itself forced. under Constantine. the ideal of a society in which the highest moral precepts. burned brighter and 116 . when with the revival of secular power the enforceability of orthodoxy once more became an issue. Christianity. such laws did not provide for the increasing numbers of helpless indigents that are spawned by mercantile padrón systems everywhere. capos. and reinforced by the blazing hope of salvation and faith in the redemption. enjoined by God. made many concessions to the low demands of commerce. there would be a general concession to the legal supremacy of the Senate (and later. though again it was based upon a transcendent conception of the good. Thereafter Jews found and punctiliously obeyed the laws of contract they found among other peoples. Roman law. so that in exchange for a local return to the patriarchal customs of the tribe. This new religion gradually created for itself through energetic private charity the role of the Empire’s welfare system.

and enforced by a perfect system of coercion. Sharia systematized and perfected the law of the good. and eventually die. rather than of good. because it was still “corrupted” by the contractual pragmatism of the law of the right. in the seventh century AD. in its homeland Hammurabic law could not control the political ambitions of the Persian Empire. It took even longer for the Islamic empire of the Ottomans and the Confucian empire of China to sink into their long decay.brighter in the imagination of the world. and was so inefficient and far-flung that it could not fully enforce its own principles. and give Roman and Jewish civilization the tools to prosper economically. wither. and embodied one of the most beautiful. but decay they did. it lasted exactly one lifetime. Its practical wisdom would eventually leaven the mysterious prescriptions of Leviticus and the pollution-and-purification ritual of Roman law. and tragically flawed. visions of society that our species had yet achieved. Meanwhile another conception of law was gaining ground: the law of right. The result was finally the birth of Islamic law. The code of Hammurabi had arisen at around 1700 BC to protect the golden goose of Mesopotamian business enterprise. before cracking and falling into dust. However. It took the Holy Roman Empire much longer to collapse. full of unbelievable carnage. Hammurabi’s core ideas had been incorporated into the new and improved 117 . All societies based on the enforcement of a law of good have tended to stagnate. The Soviet Union is a nice test case: based on noble principles of humane goodness. which overreached itself and fell victim at last to the Greeks under Alexander. or the Sharia.

and was fatally vulnerable to strict limits of size: it consumed itself in inter-city conflict. or a legally constrained monarchy of free men. The second great attempt at a society based on a law of right—one that succeeded— arose in the north with the slow maturing of the neolithic rules of the Germanic tribes into a haphazard and populist collection of laws to secure and sanction the boundaries of a marketplace. Finally the Christian Church was forced to acknowledge the secular dominance of the law of right. After the agonizing upheavals of the Reformation. Christianity was able to internalize the law of good. its defense of the local rights of civil society.version. and was overwhelmed by the more pragmatic ecumenism of the Roman Republic. as the Israelites had been forced to do two thousand years earlier. and now that Caesar made no claim to a law of the good. was undermined by elitist Platonic yearnings for a law of the good. But Greek law of right was adapted only to the city. The principles of Hammurabi took on a new lease of life. but to be equally enforceable by a democracy. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. its precedents. the Greek laws of Solon (seeThe Classical Greek Reader. but wanted only to enforce the right. and unto God that which is God’s. where the laws of contract turned out not to need an emperor to preserve them. With the Greek city-states died the first great attempt at a law of right. As it evolved with its juries. a republic. its torts. it came to dominate the world. and its astonishing capacity for commercial and technological innovation. the 118 . edited by Kenneth Atchity and Rosemary McKenna). and abandon the inquisitorial attempt to enforce it externally by secular means. its limitations on monarchic power.

But the yearning for an enforced law of the good could not be eradicated from men’s souls. Almost all despised Judaism and Christianity for having abandoned. in which the Church could have men’s souls if the State could claim men’s bodies and enrich—and tax—men’s pocketbooks. in their view. 119 . democratic socialism. Dozens of regimes have adopted free market policies. have at least in theory signed on to Hernando de Soto’s drive to give poor people the legal right to their own property (thus freeing them from moral peonage to a paternalistic government). In the last few decades. Nazism. the WTO. as they saw it. succeeded so very well economically and culturally without the help of a state at all. The result was all the various contenders for the role of secular enforcer of world morality—Jacobinism. they felt. and so on. and for having been able. and the World Bank. the role of secular enforcer of goodness. voluntary. Romanticism and the age of revolutions saw a massive swing toward the ideals of the higher moral law. to combine an inner. and have submitted themselves to the contractual discipline of the IMF. Communism. there has been a decisive swing back in that direction. however. They hated Judaism partly for having. community solidarity with an adroit and profitable expertise in the outer realm of contracts.way was open for the Enlightenment compromise. in the light of the huge economic and cultural success of the nations that clung to the law of right. Fascism. and though two great regimes—Britain and America—had largely freed themselves from the law of good.

Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The very core of morality. by the noncoercive means of persuasion. and is thus. Paradoxically. We cannot praise a coerced virtue. And it can only do so under the wing of the law of right. the freedom to do evil—as long as it does not violate the right—is required for the freedom to do good. the miraculous pricing mechanism praised by von Mises and Hayek. to enforce the law of good is to destroy it. The law of right is at its center the law of freedom. Paradoxically. gifts. nor simply a paean to the law of right. in my view and that of almost all ethicists. is the spontaneous assent to divine grace. Instead it means that the law of good must win the world the hard way. They apply also to the free institutions of civil society (protected from each other. as they must be. and the marketplace—must win the population one by one by one. nor blame an enforced crime. Certainly. and render itself impotent. enjoined by God himself in almost all religions. The absolute claims of the law of good that make it so dangerous when armed with secular power are precisely what generate the decent conduct without which a good society is impossible. is essentially bound up with freedom. the only thing for which one can rightly resort to coercion and war. that directs 120 .Let it be said at once that the above is not an attack on the law of good. But goodness. by the law of right). the laws of right do not make a perfect world. paradoxically again. All of this is not to say that the law of good must bottle itself up within the individual and the closed community. The laws of good apply still more strongly to the individual conscience as the secular enforcement of them diminishes.

if this analysis is correct. But neither can the law of good do so when enforced by coercion. Thus if religion is a natural human need and right. and it cannot by itself create the social and cultural capital that renders people capable of exercising political freedom in a responsible and objective way—nor does it claim to do so. And it cannot per se engender the marvelous overplus of heroism. However. moral strength. does indeed work. But it would be more dangerous still for the state to enforce religion. To try to ban them in public places is just as dangerous. sanctity. in the large statistical aggregate. it is one that only the persuasive and noncoercive measures of civil society can guarantee. when it is protected by the law of right. because it implicitly concedes that public space is government space. not 121 . to wither on the vine—or at least it would be overwhelmed and outbred by devout immigrants with the greater cohesion. But it cannot deal with local tragedies. and enthusiasm for life provided by their religion. evolutionary natural law might very well argue that America’s current anxiety about public displays of religion (except “secular” statist ones) may be deeply misconceived. it is we the people who own public space. and thus violates the Constitution’s pledge that all rights not specifically delegated to government are reserved to the people.resources to where they are most needed. To insist on them in government buildings is to try to make Caesar do the work of God and thus to betray a lack of faith in the Lord. generosity and scientific and artistic integrity that society needs to advance. for these things are free gifts and cannot of their nature be coerced. A civil society which did not do so would tend.

the recent attempt to suppress by “political correctness” and speech codes civil society’s habits of giving honor to religion. Just as government should not grow food. but should smile upon. the provision of religion. so government should not take on. and even its noncoercive but often very uncomfortable sanctions against irreligious and immoral behavior. may also be a mistake. Further. 122 .the government. as a natural need of its citizens. but should encourage the growing of food.

We should go with. and amateurs? Historically the arts. and especially the flowering of the arts and sciences. But is laissez-faire enough? The true test of the health of a culture is the flourishing of its highest expressions—generous human relationships. the haut-bourgeois magnates of such cities as Amsterdam. and to the voluntary self-sacrifice of dedicated artists. churches. emperors. kings. Can philanthropy. splendid personal virtues including self-sacrifice for others in emergencies and in the face of life’s inevitable tragedies. sciences and philanthropy have flourished mostly under the patronage of elite individuals and groups—pharaohs. voluntary philanthropy. A law of right may be more effective in encouraging higher values and virtues than a more ambitious law of good. and sciences flourish under government patronage in a genuine populist free market democracy? If such patronage 123 . dukes. turning them to beneficial purposes. saints. the advancement of science and philosophy and of the curiosity and integrity they require. bishops. human nature. London. Can we afford to leave these crowning values to the marketplace. the arts. monasteries. Goodness and Beauty So far the quest for an evolutionary natural law has implied the need for rather minimal prudential rules that subvert rather than condemn our less admirable emotions and motives. We have seen the overwhelming advantages of freedom and bottom-up self-organization when the incentive structure is sound. Paris. Truth. and the values of beauty and taste. not against.13.

and their best features—the ones that ring true to our intuition—need to be preserved in any replacement. and love of our fellow-humans cannot be legislated into existence. But natural law concepts may nevertheless help to correct distorted views arising out of modernist intellectual history. and thus give popular tastes a sounder foundation. fears and rewards of nature. and goodness.reflects the tastes and votes of the average consumer or of the strongest lobbyists. and what distinguishes an artistic act from a merely practical one is a supererogatory playfulness. Evolutionary natural law proposes a counter-theory to the generally accepted analysis of ethics and aesthetics originating from Immanuel Kant. science. 124 . what distinguishes an ethical action from one which is unethical or ethically neutral. unmotivated by the hope of gain. rather than those of the most cultivated members of society. the answer is perhaps that the best thing that government can do is get out of the way and neither bribe nor coerce the creative and the generous by well-intentioned laws. The same applies to scientific inquiry—it should cultivate detachment from any interested bias. That analysis was based on the idea that truly ethical action must transcend the compulsions. If we ask how natural law can help beauty. is that the act is performed without fear or hope of consequences. Art. These ideas are not without merit in themselves. truth. It emphasized the virtue of disinterestedness—that is. what kind of culture are we likely to get? These questions cannot be answered by a natural law approach. Certainly political freedom is essential to allow the flowering of ethical action and the arts and sciences. But there are other respects in which Kant’s views on the freedom of the beautiful and the good are not entirely consistent with the spirit of natural law.

clearly. which depends on the principles of free choice and assignable ethical responsibility. Thus if ethics. but our special nobility was to be able to transcend those motives. including the epistemology and ethics of science). The hold of self-interest that nature had over us needed to be broken by art. philosophy. scientific objectivity. were influenced by the physical world. then moral action. so to speak. and the apparent inference drawn by Enlightenment science that the universe operated in an entirely deterministic way.Kant’s position had at the time a very convincing basis: the philosophical crisis that had been provoked by Newton’s discoveries of the laws of motion and gravitation. The ruling principles of the latter were freedom and originality. humans could not be wholly subject to those laws—and thus the world of knowledge would have to be carved up into two incommensurable areas: Naturwissenschaft (natural science) and Geisteswissenschaft (the arts and humanities. If human beings were subject to the same laws. and stand to gain from it in some material way. and religion if we were to possess a spiritual identity. to choose the path of reward would be to have been bribed. our actions 125 . would be meaningless. Thus if we are interested in the outcome of an action or event. since the originality of a work of art would be undermined by its least detail having been stored up in a chain of prior causes for all of time. specifically the ways in which human spiritual activities escaped the ananke or fated inevitability of the material universe. and art are to retain any validity. and could so imbrute themselves that they became predictable like any material object or instinctuallydriven animal. by physicality. Humans. and so too would art.

but free and creative—“branchily” ordered in such a way that it is always to some degree unpredictable before the next event but intelligible after it—then the Enlightenment crisis is over. beauty is what is properly loved. in which to be moral and purposive beings is not necessarily to make ourselves strangers in the universe. If the universe is already full of knowers and intenders. love is identification. then a new era of reenchantment may be on the way. If the universe is not fundamentally deterministic. we count 126 . In the light of the profound changes in our scientific view of the world. in the sense that to identify something is to know it. since it transforms intimate knowledge and personal recognition into an emotion: “identification” in the sense that when we identify with a character in a story or a person undergoing some trial. The ambiguity of the word “identification” is entirely intentional. The word has three main meanings that are relevant to this discussion: first. What would an evolutionary natural law perspective now make of truth. we put ourselves in that person’s place. which partly explain each other: goodness is love. “knowledge”. we empathize. goodness and beauty? Let us start with a trio of definitions. even if at a lesser degree of organized complexity than the human. The third is essential.could not be free and original. to recognize it individually. and would fall into the province of natural science rather than the humanities. sketched in Chapter 4. an evolutionary natural law would reunite Geisteswissenschaft and Naturwissenschaft. The second is related to the first—the establishment and validation of the name and human standing of a person.

our capacity for growth and creativity. and on the other the opening of the self to a larger unity than both self and beloved. it must share with us at least some of the characteristics that make us human—our autonomy. or rather no longer conceives the other as other. Thus the word “identification” holds within itself a tension.ourselves as part of something larger than both of us. and to which one submits one’s own will. a vine of which we are a branch. our complex interdependence of parts. our capacity for emergent selforganization if only on the chemical level. and at the same time submits itself to the other as one part of a body submits itself to another part. to which both are in service. Kantians will see that this definition is in its effects not far from Kant’s “kingdom of ends” and Buber’s consequent notion of the I-Thou relationship. our participation in the continued reproduction of the universe. It is not the denial of self in submission to the abstract maxim or in a martyrdom of service to the other. That is. between the recognition of the autonomy and self-validation of the beloved on one hand. our continuity as self-sustaining physical entities in space and time. without any sense of sacrifice or rancor. we may now infer that the beautiful is that which can have such a nature that we can identify it and identify with it. and 127 . been engaged in some reciprocal exchange of information with the rest of the universe. so becoming one with it. and thus our natural care of ourselves is extended to the person or thing we have identified and identified with. Thus there are many ways in which we can feel an appropriate empathy with something. or mystical body of which we are a member. But the dynamic is different. but the extension of the self that includes the other. Working backward to the second definition. that is. or at least our having at some point existed.

Note that according to this logic. we can love another being—legitimately find it or her or him beautiful—only by being able to conceive of a larger unity which includes both of us and with which we can submissively identify. the trophic 128 . Quite the reverse. whether through the forces of physics. Consider the love of a poet for the language. Note also that though the beautiful is distributed among all kinds of entities in the universe.thus many kinds of beauty. including its human beings. it is also much more intense and richly realized in the more complex and inclusive emergent systems (and thus we have the necessary definition of the ugly. mutual influence. to the full range of empathetically sharable characteristics such as we possess in common with another person. and animals. of whose vast neural community his own conversations are but a single synapse (or for another language than his own. which is the overwhelming of a greater beauty by a lesser). A further implication is that there may be even more inclusive and beautiful systems whose emergent properties transcend our human ones (while potentially including them)--systems which command our even greater love. thus including the other in the familial warmth of our solidarity. The universe is a place of violent transformation as well as mutual influence—indeed. ranging from the purely mathematical elegance of an electron through the richer and more complex organizations of inanimate matter. Not that this definition of the beautiful is all relaxed harmony and oceanic acceptance. or the love we bear toward a culture or nation or divine being. Or consider the love of a biologist for an entire ecosystem. plants. of whose community he could one day be a member).

but through a larger selfishness. we 129 . in another sense its potential for evolution and emergence. Working backwards now to the first definition. Goethe called it—which the poet experiences with objects or systems. Francis of Assisi put it. roses. his chilled ache is in my body too. It is not disinterested—it is deeply. vaster and vaster systems that can constitute a home for an “I”. the trembling of the hare as it limps through the frozen grass. we may now understand goodness as the appropriate response of love to what is beautiful. of irrevocably changing the world and each other. because I and the rose and the hare are part of one body. which is in one sense the process of mutual feedback itself. then: beauty is the deepest trend or tendency of the universe. That sense of kinship—Einfühlung. which we share. an expanded sense of profit and loss. and in a third sense its capacity to recruit larger and larger concatenations of mutual influence and thus identification. I have in one sense transcended selfishness and interest. deeply interested in every sense of the word. by literal construction or by meaning.relations of an ecosystem. Buried in this definition of beauty is a further definition. What we should properly love in other things and people is at least partly their capacity. is the very trigger of change and catastrophic emergence. Art now may be seen as the making of larger communities of being— tying together. is the very core of beauty. As St. I feel the sickness of the rose. One of the things that people laugh at in poets is their tendency to talk to trees and writes odes to inanimate things like autumn. melancholy or nightingales. her sickness is mine. or the dialectics of zealous knowledge-seekers.

Part of the reason. not deterministic. that is. that is. the living universe is a vine of which we are all branches. The gene pool and the integrated rule-governed and emotion-policed signal system are cruder. or in its larger economic sense. or our shared Buddha-nature. that we have evolved signal systems that enable us to collude against the Prisoner’s Dilemma. In the Hindu Upanishads this whole idea is summed up in the sublime words “Tat Tvam Asi”. In Jesus’ sense. all that you really are is of the divine substance—anything that isn’t. better would be “That thou art”. A first approximation is “You are that”. earlier versions of Francis’ sense of the common Fatherhood of God. The phrase also can be turned around—Thou. perhaps. branchy. doesn’t really exist and is an illusion. the human being reading the book—are the divine being that is the subject of the holy book. We may now see that this definition of love is quite consistent with the sociobiological concept of altruism as the result of “inclusive fitness”: whether in its narrow genetic sense that we act altruistically because we share genes with our friend. art that—whatever one sees or 130 . why my cat and I are fond of each other is that some tens of millions of years ago there was a small furry rat-like and affectionate animal —not too bright—one of whose suckling babies was my ancestor. Properly considered. that of which all creation is but a single thought. Translation is hard. Its meanings include the idea that you—that is.are brothers and sisters of the ass and the olive tree and the sun and the moon. God. and anything that has real being—one’s atman or soul—is but a holographic fragment of Brahman. and one was hers: the place where we branched off from: our mama. that is. we share a common ancestry that makes us members of a larger community. Such systems are creative and beautiful—free.

Higher yet 131 . The next level would be our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for our blood kin—family values—a kind of moral value system. and thus declaring that the reader is part of Brahman as he himself is. for atoms and molecules would have committed themselves to a higher selfishness to be effective at this level.considers. The most primitive level of morality for us humans would be for a part of us—a damaged gene or cancerous cell or group of cells. Thus the progress of ethical goodness in the world is not to be found in an attempt to get people to be unselfish. The etymology of the word “sin”—sunderedness. That is. More advanced would be the rational self-interest of that larger community of all the cells and subsystems of the body—the morality of the virtuous egoist. that is hundreds of millions of years old. with its institutions of tribal genocide and blood feud. But the writer is also addressing the reader human to human. but rather in the wider and wider expansion of what we consider ourselves to be. to love the Lord one’s God with one’s whole being and one’s neighbor as oneself. Next would be our allegiance to our city or patriotism to our nation. and so the phrase can also be translated as the Judeo-Christian couplet. whatever “that” one attends to. sundering—now has a powerful context. and so the phrase is a declaration of love for a fellow human being. But we can now see that the two halves of the phrase are really logically entwined—the bond between one’s neighbor and oneself is God. or an urge to gorge on food or expend ourselves in indiscriminate copulation—to assert its independence of the rest of our body and seek to gratify its selfish motives. the supreme goodness is the recognition of all beings including oneself as part of the divine. with its darker side of war. Even this would be a kind of morality.

Next would be an identification with the ecosystem of the planet. These values have in fact increased in the universe in precise step with the enlargement and densification of integrated feedback systems.would be a sense of Us—the extended I—as including the whole human race in an embracing humanism—an ethic that does not necessarily embrace a care for the biosphere. Far from it. and organize themselves in crystalline. or such an ethic would risk falling back to a level more primitive than mere humanism. with their inner nuclei and outer electron shells. a spinal axis. but that ecosystem would have to include the human race with all its warts and transformative violence—it would have to be loyal to the “household” of the world economy as well as the world ecology. At each stage the common roots of our mutual ancestry would extend further back in time and would have a longerrange intentionality into the future. later organized with a top and bottom. and identical with all other photons except in wavelength. and see the two as indissoluble. Atoms. Living organisms show even more individuality —at first globular and symmetrical in shape and reproducing by cloning. The relatively isolated photon in space is symmetrical in almost all dimensions. nonconformity. and would be religious in its scope. a head and tail. uniqueness. are more asymmetrical and individuated. Molecules show distinct asymmetries of external shape. and the odd upright. difference. exception. Higher still our empathy would be with the whole universe. or amorphous communities. polymeric. and they exist in ecologies of other atoms and forms of energy. It might be objected that this value-system of larger and larger spheres of communion would militate against the virtues of individuality. devoid of an inside and outside and a shape. skull-forward 132 .

the replacement of the idea of humans at war with nature by an ethic of solidarity with it might be timely indeed. as the sciences would be reintegrated with the arts and humanities. 133 . however. an unembarrassed reverence in the sciences. so to speak. However. and values would be enlivened facts. and develop sensory systems that provide the universe with ways of seeing itself at large—but also the greater its scope for difference and nonconformity. One would be the existentialist pose of the human thinker alone in an unfeeling and meaningless universe. and this intellectual change would reverberate in terms of a transcendence of irony in the humanities. Individuality and expanded communities of interest go hand in hand. so as to produce genetic uniqueness in each individual. and a recovery of both technical virtuosity and moral seriousness in the arts. and the stipulation that each requires freedom and originality would be satisfied by the new conception of the universe as free and creative all the way down. to abandon some dearly held prejudices. ethics and esthetics would be naturalized. One implication of this view would be that the fact-value distinction would no longer hold. The more individuated the organism. to extend its sphere of interest across different biomes. Facts would simply be fossilized values.stance of the human being—and reproducing sexually. A dramatic new opening in scholarship and education would appear. We would need. the more likely it is to engage in social behavior and display altruism.

though the economic. Two hundred fifty years ago there was but one free market democracy—and an imperfect one at that. As the liquid cools it resists the inevitable transformation into a solid. Here a small crystal of ice might emerge in cooling water. the squirearchy. Free market democracies were a small minority among nations for many decades. That propagation will begin around the rare precursor-crystal. technological and scientific conditions of the world were increasingly inhospitable to any other system: the “latent heat” of the bureaucraticmonarchical phase resisted the collapse into the more integrated and multidimensional form of organization. propagating by cascades through the entire body of water in a few seconds. having accreted around a peculiar local set of conditions such as British primogeniture. It is not until well past the official freezing point that freezing itself sets in—and then the transformation can be very quick. and the need for a successor to the throne of the right religion.14. Just so must the hunter-gatherer world have resisted the planetary 134 . The Resistance to Evolutionary Natural Law The spread of free market democracy across the world might look to an alien observer very like certain phase-change phenomena in the realm of thermodynamics. because of the latent heat of its liquid phase and the heat transportation costs involved in the molecular transformation. accreting perhaps around a minute grain of dust or impurity. common law. precipitating upon the British model. and the orientation of the crystal planes of the whole will be partly determined by the precursor crystal’s own location and orientation. The United States was a purer version.

Thus it would be no 135 .crystallization into agriculture in the Neolithic. may well be archlike in that in an arch it is the very tendency for the blocks to fall that gives it its strength and cohesion. and certainly could not be concocted. Like the arch in architecture. like an artificial human construct. the rural world must have resisted the wave of urbanization when cities arose a few thousand years later. it positively defines nature as that process which produces new natural kinds—and does not rule out human artifice as part of that process. a new species. The point here is that free market democracy may itself be a new natural kind. Indeed pricing. and so on. Though free market democracies all over the world bear the crystalline imprint of Britain and the United States—the “mother of parliaments” and the “model of constitutions”—the actual condition of free market democracy may itself be sui generis. and its extension as voting. something anyone can use. Free market democracy may be adaptable to any local system that has crossed certain thresholds of per capita income. For the older forms of natural law. and the pre-industrial world resisted industrialization in recent times. life expectancy. women’s education. it may be a discovery even more than an invention. and may well be complete in a few decades. But in the last few years the transformation to free market democracy has accelerated. not the property of any particular culture or culture type. personal mobility. such a formulation would be nonsense—a natural kind or species could not be new. communications technology. But evolutionary natural law not only can accommodate new natural kinds. legal property rights.

later.paradox—as it would have been for Enlightenment “state of nature/social contract” theorists—to say that free market democracy is actually more natural than the bureaucratic monarchies that preceded it and created the conditions for its emergence. we are still morally responsible for the disruptions and tragedies in the lives of people in those societies that have had to change or assimilate in the face of the democratic free market challenge. that very sense of obligation arises out of our democratic condition and would be almost inconceivable to a tribesman who found himself dealing with a 136 . Then. ice emerged. Yet ice is now a more natural state than liquid water over the vast proportion of the universe that is under zero degrees centigrade—liquid water and steam existing only in planetary and stellar environments that are hot enough and pressurized enough to resemble the first environments of oxygen and hydrogen. and since water can form out of hydrogen and oxygen only in the forms of gas or water—there was no ice. We owe it to them to ease the transition and to help and comfort injured individuals—indeed. It would be quite accurate to say that ice is a more natural state than the metastable condition of subzero liquid water that immediately preceded it. Certainly. Indeed. free market democracy may now from an evolutionary natural law perspective be seen as the most natural condition for humans on this planet. By analogy. The earlier formation of something is not necessarily more natural than the later. within recent memory the number of people in the world living in free market democracies passed 50% of the total. at one time in the universe— since the universe has been cooling since its origin. To look at the world this way immediately dispels one of our most deep-seated anxieties and explodes some of our most guilt-ridden myths.

economic and political: the free market and the vote. even if it may. have been as discreditable to advanced urban societies as tribal massacres are to backward rural ones. the city. But once the more abstract institutions of interest. Specialist traders were more despised by aristocrats and peasants than hated. When a major sport or freak occurs in an animal species. it is perceived at once as a threat to the established order that must be attacked and cleansed from the world. The free market came first. or free market democracy emerges. things 137 . and was not recognized as a threat. insurance. despite its more synergetic molecular order at low temperatures. property law. and the pricing mechanism began to flex its invisible hand. nor suffer a sense of moral alienation from the rest of the world. This perspective may now enable us to better understand the passions of anti-semitism and anti-capitalism—whose results. When a new form of organization first becomes available to a physical system. its litter-mates are inclined to attack it as a monster. it is resisted.society less advanced than his own. In the beginning it emerged out of the general trading habit of the species. use the available ecological niches to better effect. a business caste. has two elements. as we have seen. The speck of ice in the cooling water is in danger of being melted back into the mass. in larger numbers. Free market democracy. investment. and capital in general evolved. And when an evolutionary advance such as agriculture. in terms of mass murder and atrocity. banking. But we need no longer carry the burden of believing ourselves to be unnatural interlopers upon a harmonious natural world. a form that may better fit its energy budget and future stability.

They were comparatively wealthy and. the Ibo.changed. Volatile prices wiped out unwary farmers. replacing one’s own. The Armenians were massacred by the Turks. and interest rates ruined princes. and shrewd). The Carthaginian Phoenicians were crushed by the Romans: Carthago delenda est—salt was sowed on its ruins. precursor crystals in a melt that must sooner or later freeze. the Armenians. requiring changes in old habits. honest. And maybe our ancient myths of ogres and giants and ettins preserve a trace of guilt for their eradication that makes us Cro-Magnons fear the same may happen to ourselves Several nations appeared. Those who were able to understand the new system became monstrously and inexplicably rich. the English and Dutch. So the Neanderthals might have felt in Northern Europe. the Ibo by the Hausa. as the clever swarthy little Cro-Magnons usurped their shrines and hunting grounds. the Tutsi by the Hutu. as were the longbow and the gun. the Tutsi and of course. the Jews. the Jews by a succession of peoples 138 . Weapons improved. and were effective in unskilled hands. tricksy and unscrupulous (though in their own terms they were simply law-abiding. the extraterritorial Chinese. A new upstart breed of people seemed to have occupied the privileges and holy places of the old— almost as if they were a monstrous new race. Chinese trading communities throughout south-east Asia were subjected to periodic pogroms until recent memory. They included the Phoenicians. Technology accelerated. skilled in finance and experienced in pricing because they lay at crossroads or were compelled by historical vicissitudes to seek new economic niches. The English and the Dutch were saved from destruction at the hands of Spain by the sea. paradigmatically and first of all. to outsiders.

flesh. looking for advantage.including the Assyrians. the Romans. their bald domed foreheads bulge. Europe. the Germans. 139 . The Jews were blamed for the Great Depression. Israel became the precursor nation par excellence. If you are a Neanderthal. the underhanded. The physical and psychological stereotypes are perfectly matched to the paranoia of those who fear being left behind by the ignoble. their eyes are beady. They do not stand up straight. a Cro-magnon is to you a nasty. the Babylonians. the “nation of shopkeepers.” of grasping little materialists. the big-eared Ferenghi of Star Trek. the Jews the Cro-Magnons. cunning. crimes that attack the basic symbols of gentle human nature—blood. in the most hideous atrocity of all. they maintain mystifying and inexplicable systems of control. the clever—the Dwarves of Wagner’s Ring cycle. miserly. Asia. they are suspected of hideous and unnatural crimes. and finally. In our own time Japan and the US have been most roundly hated when their economies have surged. was loathed by Europe as “perfidious Albion”.. and because its periodic diasporas and territorial dispossessions forced it into non-agricultural means of livelihood. indoors kind of creature. and perhaps because its early adoption of monotheism gave it a scientific philosophy that favored rational analysis. Anti-semitism is the most ancient of these hatreds and fears. babies. The rest of the world’s peoples were culturally the Neanderthals. and the Mediterranean. Worse. Perhaps because of its location at the meeting of Africa. England. and it is no coincidence that the 9/11 attacks were directed against the World Trade Center. the materialistic bourgeois of countless avant-garde fantasies. most European nations.

If banking. Jews. 140 .One of the unexpected benefits of the adoption of evolutionary natural law as a guide would be that groups like the Armenians. philosophical speculation. and their benefits and availability to the whole human race fully and ungrudgingly acknowledged. travel. Ibos. then some of our Neanderthal fears and hatreds might begin to fade away. legality. and so on are recognized as natural goods and not despised as unnatural (if necessary) evils. scientific discovery. and British would be seen not as threats against nature but as the leaders and pioneers of it.

and which are not. Examples of the latter include the use of new knowledge about sexual and asexual reproductive strategies and geneswapping among prokaryotes to answer the question of what types of medical intervention are in the mainstream spirit of evolutionary health. Evolutionary natural law can suggest ways out of current controversies. as when it confirms the success of free market economies by pointing out the naturalness of contracts. Consider also the use of new research in human prehistory to reexamine the question of human adaptedness to high-tech city life. without special preference for particular religions. which are old problems but which look different when we approach them with an evolutionary perspective on revenge and territoriality. Examples of the former are the issues of just war and property. encourage it in general. like the relationship of church and state—if humans naturally need religion. 141 . Evolutionary natural law may be useful even when it is not particularly surprising. Conclusion: A Research Program in Evolutionary Natural Law Thus evolutionary natural law has the promise of offering interesting and perhaps surprising solutions to many questions of principle—some that have bedeviled moral and legal scholars for centuries.15. or have become especially acute with recent developments in technology. or provides a natural basis for the toleration of homosexuality. the state should not stand in religion’s way but should. and others that are new.

A natural law candidate would carry more conviction if it were based not just on human universality. And it would be 142 . One should be able to show that when it has been violated in the past. benefits have accrued. These possible applications of an evolutionary perspective are intended as suggestions about the richness of the approach. mammalian. It would be consistent with other known natural principles (though not reducible to them).e. How might sound knowledge be generated about evolutionary natural law? This question divides into two parts: How do we make evolutionary natural law hypotheses? And how do we test them? A good candidate for a hypothetical natural law might have the following characteristics. It would have the characteristic economy and synergy of other natural solutions. not as second-guessing its conclusions..Likewise. it would contain the potential of future emergence and further development. and when followed. and therefore likely to be part of human nature. and vertebrate frequency as well. the pressing matter of eminent domain and government takings might benefit from the scholarship on natural territoriality. It would evoke the same kind of aesthetic satisfaction that an artist finds in a successful artistic resolution. but also primate. or a scientist feels in an elegant experiment or theorem. damage has been done to individuals and/or societies as a whole. It would be promising—i. creating rich adaptability out of simple means or clear resolutions of complex and multifarious problems. It would be based on some human trait that is culturally universal.

But less extreme examples might also be useful. anatomical. and the Warsaw Ghetto. history itself contains many “natural experiments” and also immoral or amoral experiments by humans on each other. and other evidence to confirm the actual adaptive history. or extreme sociopathological cases like Colin Turnbull’s Ik people. but if necessary a coercively sanctioned legal one. there is still much scope for testing. We would want good genetic. on whole human communities—is itself one of the issues that must pass the test of natural moral law. the first test for a natural law candidate would be consistency with the theory of evolution.formulable as a law. For a start. like the often- 143 . for instance. Once such a hypothesis has been generated. and the natural-law implications of that trait. the same set of causes can bring about different effects. selection. and heredity might not be enough—as we know. These might include. viral grafting. because the extent to which experimentation is permissible on human subjects—and. But the identification of a biological and behavioral substrate for a possible natural law is not the only kind of test. preferably a voluntary moral one. Obviously. Here a “Just So Story” about how a natural trait. mutation. it would need to be tested. Testing is problematic in many ways. a fortiori. the survivability of isolated or stressed populations such as the Easter Islanders. might have been produced by recombination. Leningrad in World War II. However. archeological.

Why did South and North Korea. Of course other natural law implications might flow from the same data—China’s huge population does represent rather emphatically what Darwin would have called reproductive success. It may well be. The technique is to use the existing scholarship on such a case as the basis for making a natural-law prediction about some previously unexamined aspect of the case. while the very success of China in holding together its vast subcontinent diminished the number of experimental test-beds at its disposal. and then research that aspect to find out if the prediction is correct. might be hugely valuable however it turned out. 144 . for the bulk of state law usually remains fairly uniform while some particular innovation. can be carefully examined both for its natural-law assumptions and for its consequences. A substantial test of the school voucher system in some state or other. that the division of Europe into separate and competing nations after the fall of the Roman Empire contributed heavily to the progress of European science and technology. as some scholars have suggested. or Massachusetts’ marriage laws. like California’s plebiscites and property taxes. beginning in similar conditions. The very fact that there are different nations affords controls and alternative strategic plans with different assumptions. so rapidly diverge in economic and demographic terms? Federal systems like that of the United States give very precise tests of what might have evolutionary promise and what might not.remarked contrast between European scientific dynamism after the Renaissance and Chinese relative stagnation in the same period. if scholars with various positions on natural law were prepared to make predictions as to its outcome on the basis of their arguments and observe it closely.

The promise of such research is suggested. Of course we do not have time to look at the long-term consequences of a policy on the genome of our own species. The less accurate modeling 145 . resulted in cheerful and effective behavior and no bad after-effects. Good techniques now exist for the realtime observation of the human brain and nervous system faced with moral decisions—functional MRI scanning. This technique would be more accurate because we can then go back to the geological. Another kind of test would be in terms of evolutionary fitness. we might reverse-engineer some actual human trait. skin conductance. More accurately. for instance. containing virtual communities of hundreds or thousands of genetic algorithms representing gene frequencies. by Stanley Milgram’s famous experiments on the influence of authority or majority opinion over individual behavior. archeological and genetic record and see if the computed sequence corresponds to what actually happened. A sound natural law would be one which. EEGs. etc—and for the study of neurotransmitter. and immune system chemistry in humans and other higher animals.A different kind of test might be in the whole realm of neuroscience and sociopsychological research. when applied to the experience of and demands on a subject. hormone. even if such a thing were morally possible. But we could certainly begin to model such scenarios by means of powerful nonlinear iterative computer programs. interacting according to the social parameters we want to test. and by the more comforting work of games theorists on cooperative strategies in iterated nonzero-sum game scenarios. constructing computer programs with different constants and variables to see which one best models the actual emergence of that trait.

could be data-mined for significant human tropisms indicating underlying features of our nature. Real-world experimentation on living animals. and by implication the importance of epigenetic meta-genes that control the activity of large groups of other genes—the toggle-switches of genetic intraspecific diversity.system could then be amended by comparison with the more accurate one. can also give exciting insights into short-term genetic phenomena like the triggering of neoteny in a lineage by domestication. Games people play for entertainment and pleasure themselves constitute a rich body of data about putative natural laws. Starquest and The Sims involve of thousands of players. if its existing body of data were reexamined from a natural-law perspective and some of its new research were conducted with a view to testing the conclusions of the archival study. with a digitally-preserved history. and an explicit record of the initial parameters and rules. Anthropology’s method of one-on-one personal interview and long-baseline residence with its subjects uses to the full those human talents designed by evolution to figure out what is going on in a human situation. The traditional ethnographic methods of the 146 . with its enormous archive of linkings. It would be very instructive indeed to see which of the plot developments in Survivor were expected or planned by the game designers. such as that of the Soviet fur breeders. Perhaps the most reliable test of all is good old-fashioned social anthropology. and so on. Even “reality TV” may have a role here. Such institutions as Google. and which ones came as a surprise. and thus might furnish good data about the laws of emergence governing human interaction.

which gains statistical power at the cost of human insight and the recognition of the moral aspects of research on humans. but also between different political. the search for a reliable body of natural law might well be the essential spark for a resurgence of the critical disciplines and of the humanities in general. academic. At present the legal. At present literary and performance criticism is languishing in the aftermath of its largely disastrous thirty-year foray into “Theory”. political. they may have a greater potential for insight. religious. and philosophical ideologies. their value is in the fuzzy area between hypothesis and testing. Indeed. Novels. operas. Less systematic and reliable than anthropology. and the means of knowledge are recognized as among the things most vitally to be known about human beings. journalistic. where what we know exerts a continual correction upon the means we use to know it. and dramas employ perhaps the most sophisticated instruments of all for the study of human natural law. the complexities of the observer effect. it would be in everyone’s interest to contribute the maximum energy to the enterprise. Since everyone would have an interest in promoting a body of common knowledge that would bind competing ideologies to a common playing-field. and artistic professions are rather floundering about in the post-postmodern condition.discipline avoid some of the pitfalls of sociological research. A search for sound natural law would provide a common focus and a worthwhile goal. 147 . Research into natural law might have a further beneficial effect: to require cooperation not only between different academic disciplines. medical.

148 .

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