Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 3 (2018)

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Liking What's Good for You: Evolution, Subjectivity and Purpose

Justin Dominic Gaudry

Abstract


The evolutionary argument for the causal efficacy of consciousness of William James contends that an implication of the theory of evolution by natural selection is that subjective states have physical effects. This paper explores the contemporary relevance of James’ argument. The argument will be examined and some objections to it briefly discussed. Following this, the implications of the argument for the foundations of science and for evolutionary theory will be addressed. Consideration will then be given to how extensively subjective purpose may occur in living nature in view of James’ argument. It is argued that the evolutionary argument lends support to Whiteheadian metaphysics and has significant implications for the world-view of scientific materialism.


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