How to De-Ruse Sociobiological Theory of Knowledge?

  • Józef Życiński
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 160)


The epistemological significance of E.O. Wilson’s sociobiology has been enthusiastically proclaimed by Michael Ruse in his version of the so-called Darwinian epistemology. When trying to develop its tenets, Ruse argues that the principle of the survival of the fittest should be consistently applied not only to the domain of biological organisms but also to scientific theories and their competition in the struggle for survival. This claim seems scarcely original since in authors as remote as Herbert Spencer, Ernst Mach, and Karl Popper we find its anticipations in various metaphors that describe the growth of scientific theories in biological terms related to natural selection. Ruse’s declarations seem, however, much stronger than the suggestions mentioned above when he claims that ‘there are very good biological reasons’ to regard mathematical theorems as objective truths because the theorems at stake give us ‘a selective advantage’ in the struggle for survival. Such a statement must not result in the rejection of epistemological realism or imply an irrationalist stance in the theory of knowledge. Ruse explicitly declares that as a former logical empiricist he was and still is ‘attracted to the rationality of science’, and still asserts that ‘the course of science is … not totally without sane reason.’


Scientific Theory Selective Advantage Evolutionary Advantage Logical Empiricist Michael Ruse 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Józef Życiński
    • 1
  1. 1.Pontifical Academy of TheologyKrakówPoland

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