A Law of Progress?

  • Antony Flew
Part of the New Studies in Ethics book series (NSE)


One great advantage of starting, as we have insisted on doing, from Darwin himself is that this helps to bring out the fundamental difference between evolution and natural selection. Another is that it focuses attention on the deductive core of Darwinism. No one who has failed to appreciate these two things can hope to do precise justice to the nature and the originality of Darwin’s contribution. For our present purposes they are equally important, but in other ways. It is the notion of evolution, and the consequent discrediting of the idea of special interventions in the biological sphere, which promises to reinforce our suspicions of those who would claim that supernatural activity endorses (favoured) moral intuitions and the deliverances of (privileged) consciences. It is similarly this same notion of evolution which applied to ethical ideas must discourage any assumption of an authoritative finality, in principle beyond all criticism and reappraisal. It is the fact that the core of Darwin’s theory is a compulsive deductive argument which makes it possible to misplace the idea of necessity, and then perhaps to mistake its character: where a conclusion follows necessarily it can be all too easy to assume that that conclusion must itself be logically, or even morally, necessary.


Natural Selection Moral Intuition Actual Trend Deductive Argument Progressive Trend 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Antony Flew 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antony Flew
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KeeleUK

Personalised recommendations