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Not by DesignRetiring Darwin's Watchmaker$
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John Reiss

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520258938

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520258938.001.0001

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Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection

Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection

6 Darwin, Natural Theology, and the Principle of Natural Selection
Not by Design

John O. Reiss

University of California Press

This chapter discusses Cuvier's influence in Britain, in particular the way in which his views were perceived in the intellectual environment that provided the intellectual background to Darwin's theorizing. It first examines the implicit assumption underlying the use of the concept of “adaptedness” in natural theology, and then examines the role played by the principle of conditions for existence in Darwin's theory. The chapter also argues that by separating the concept of adaptedness from its empirical base in existence, and then basing his evolutionary theory on this disembodied adaptedness, Darwin introduced a teleological determinism. This teleology is expressed in two related conceptions: (1) that evolution is a process going from a less-adapted to a better-adapted state and (2) that natural selection is a deterministic force, or agent, which directs the evolutionary process toward this better-adapted state.

Keywords:   Cuvier, Darwin, adaptedness, natural theology, conditions for existence, teleological determinism, evolution, natural selection

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