The Reciprocal Links between Evolutionary-Ecological Sciences and Environmental Ethics Page: 912
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Thinking of Biology
S ,' eolo en t r
So o a ,
, ways we .. ways we r
.o understand 0' = dwell in
the natural the natural ,
o world world
: Conservation (1) 1,,
b\ iology Hum e's philosophy
(2) " Malthusian economy
Beagle Artificial selection ... '
voyage :... (5) O
Ca Natural Eviction of a a
History ...** anthropocentrism -
Z , r . * ... r
e O .. (3) thi0 ,
t c t Struggle for existence ; I
1 Darwinian Moral sentiments
. . theory ,, " I ;
1 " (4) "I,
" Social Darwinism "
Leopold's land ethic ,
". S. - -
win's evolutionary conception: the philosophy of David
Hume, the economy of Thomas Malthus, and the practice
of artificial selection (Figure ib, arrow 1). It is particular-
ly significant that the basic notion of evolution came into
Darwin's family via philosophy. The notion of evolution
was suggested to Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus Darwin,
by the British philosopher Hume (Harrison 1971). In
Erasmus Darwin's first unequivocal evolutionary pro-
nouncement-in a paragraph of his main work, Zoono-
mia-he quoted from Hume's posthumously published
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779): "The late
Mr. Hume...concludes that the world itself might have
been generated rather than created" (Darwin 1794, pp.
245-246). Interestingly, Hume (1779) admitted in his Dia-
logues that he did not have the data to support his conclu-
sion. Eighty years later, through the development of the
theory of biological evolution, Charles Darwin-who at a
natural and social sciences (Levins and Lewontin 1985,
912 BioScience * November 1999 / Vol. 49 No. 11
_ I _I _
Figure 1. Reciprocal influences between
evolutionary-ecological sciences and environmental
ethics. (a) The ways in which humans understand
the natural world (sciences) and dwell in it
(environmental ethics) are intimately linked by
reciprocal influences (broad gray arrows) that take
place within two broader environments: the cultural
world and the natural world. The short double
arrows crossing the borders of each circle emphasize
the openness of each domain to influences occurring
among all domains. The arrowheads in each of the
circles indicate the dynamic character of each
domain. (b) This concept can be elaborated based on
the case of Darwin's evolutionary theory. Solid
arrows refer to influences on Darwin's evolutionary
theory that derive from culture (1), observation of
the natural world (2), and ethics (3). Dotted arrows
indicate influences that Darwinian theory has had
on ethics (4), modern culture (5), and human impact
on the natural environment (6).
young age carefully read his grandfather's Zoonomia
(see Darwin 1892)-furnished the data requested by
Hume. In this manner, the Darwinian theory of a
common origin for all living forms was stimulated by
Hume's philosophy (Huntley 1972); Darwinian theo-
ry provided, in turn, the empirical support requested
by Hume's evolutionary thesis that criticized a prevail-
ing creationist view in the eighteenth century (Ricar-
do Rozzi, unpublished manuscript).
Philosophy also appears to have stimulated Dar-
win's use of the term "evolution." In the entire book
On the Origin of Species, Darwin used the word "evo-
lution" only once, in the final sentence: "There is
grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers,
having been originally breathed by the Creator into a
few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has
gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity,
from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful
and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved"
(Darwin 1859, p. 490). Later, however, under the influence
of his contemporary, philosopher Herbert Spencer, who
used the term "evolution" extensively, Darwin employed it
frequently to refer to his theory of natural selection in The
Descent of Man and other works. Spencer seems to have
borrowed the concept of life as progressive evolution from
Samuel Coleridge, who in turn had adopted it from the
German philosopher Friedrich Schelling (see Richards
1987, 1992). This flux of the term "evolution" illustrates
how philosophy provided this basic notion for the con-
ception of the Darwinian theory.
A broader historical perspective of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries indicates a remarkable synchrony in
the development of the notion of evolution among diverse
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Rozzi, Ricardo, 1960-. The Reciprocal Links between Evolutionary-Ecological Sciences and Environmental Ethics, article, November 1999; [Reston, Virginia]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc130190/m1/2/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.