The Decent of Man

Essays on Evolution, Altruism, and Cooperation

Michael Ruse

Darwin Made Me Do It

Our evolved nature provides us with the resources to live morally decent lives, even if the theory of natural selection undermines the project of moral philosophy.

Kevin N. Laland

On the Origin of Cooperation

Both cultural and genetic evolution worked together to help make us the most cooperative species on earth.

The Time of Our Lives

by Raymond Tallis

Arguing against the physicists who describe time as an “arrow of information” or “arrow of entropy,” Raymond Tallis shows how reflection on the lived experience of time can help us understand why there is more to human nature than can be described by physical science.


What Is It Like to Know?

by Ari N. Schulman

The famous “Mary’s Room” thought experiment was intended to show that the mind is not merely physical. Ari N. Schulman shows that the debate over the thought experiment conceals a deeper convergence between “dualists” and “physicalists,” and that both sides fail to see how knowledge is bound up with experience.

The Limits of Information

by Daniel N. Robinson

When we look for an explanation — of a biological trait, a historical event, or some personal experience — what kind of explanation should we expect to find? Daniel N. Robinson argues that scientific information can never be enough to explain human experience.

by Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D.
and Paul R. McHugh, M.D.

A careful summary and an up-to-date explanation of research on sexual orientation and gender identity, offered to improve public understanding of these complicated subjects.

The Use and Abuse of ‘Information’ in Biology

by Murillo Pagnotta

The concept of information has become central to modern biology, especially to the field of genetics, where DNA is often taken to be simply an organism’s instruction manual. But, Murillo Pagnotta argues, much “info-talk” is faulty or oversimplified — a failing with implications for how we think about nature, nurture, growth, and evolution.

Evolution and the Purposes of Life

by Stephen L. Talbott

Modern biology has tried to abolish purpose from living things — even as biologists implicitly attribute purposes and goals to molecules, genes, and the evolutionary process of natural selection. Stephen L. Talbott exposes the hidden assumptions behind the view that purpose in nature is just an illusion, and shows why purpose cannot be ignored or explained away.

Is There an ‘Unmet Need’ for Family Planning?

by Rebecca Oas

Increasing access to contraception is a major development goal for many foundations, NGOs, and international agencies. But as Rebecca Oas explains, the claim that the world’s poorest need more contraception is based on a deeply flawed concept.


Scientist, Scholar, Soul

by Marc D. Guerra

Marc D. Guerra on what Margaret Edson’s play Wit can teach the overeducated about death, redemption, and life’s meaning.


Science isn’t self-correcting, it’s self-destructing. To save the enterprise, argues Daniel Sarewitz, scientists must come out of the lab and into the real world.



Biomedicine and Its Cultural Authority

by Joseph E. Davis

Critics sometimes accuse modern medicine of focusing too narrowly on the causes of specific maladies instead of holistically maintaining health and wellness. But, as Joseph E. Davis explains, the reductionist style of medicine and the lifestyle that goes with it are deeply connected to our cultural priorities and how we think of ourselves as autonomous individuals.


Human Gene Editing Arrives in America

by Brendan P. Foht

CRISPR is unlikely to create designer babies — but it’s already contributing to a cruel instrumentalization of human life.


Why Information Matters

by Luciano Floridi

Does philosophy need an upgrade? Luciano Floridi discusses what philosophy and computer science can contribute to each other.


European and American Views on Genetically Modified Foods

by Orsolya Ujj

Why are genetically modified foods ubiquitous in America but rare in Europe? The answer, as Orsolya Ujj explains, is deeply rooted in cultural and philosophical differences between the two continents.



Fiction in the Age of Screens

by Erik P. Hoel

As television and video games have increasingly encroached into literary terrain, what is to become of books? Erik P. Hoel examines the “HBO anxiety” of today’s writers — and explains why the novel is here to stay.