Richard Weikart of the University of California, Stanislaus, author of (most recently) Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), writes to say that he has just posted to his Web site an essay, “A History of the Impact of Darwinism on Bioethics,” originally published in 2011 in the anthology, 150 Years of Evolution: Darwin’s Impact on the Humanities and Social Sciences (ed. Mark Wheeler, San Diego State University Press).
Read it here:
Seeing morality as the product of contingent evolutionary processes was in line with the dominant trend toward historicism that permeated nineteenth-century Western thought. However it was a radical departure from pre-nineteenth century views about ethics as timeless and universal. Darwin clearly contributed to the historicization of ethics in the nineteenth century by portraying morality as changing and by denying its universality. (p. 93) More.
The intriguing part is that so many people who think this an entirely laudable trend in ethics are nonetheless angry and disbelieving when a scholar like Weikart explains the role Darwin played in it. Apparently, it is bad form to embarrass Christian Darwinists by spelling it out?
Weikart explains how he first became interested in Darwin’s role here:
Weikart is sometimes attacked in print for having had a sordid motive for even raising the issue. So why did he do it? And how did he get interested in the first place?
Actually, at first, he wasn’t interested. While living in Germany some years ago to improve his German, he was mainly interested in the nineteenth century. He doubted that he would uncover anything new about the Third Reich. For one thing, in his view, it was an overworked field. But then he discovered one neglected point … More.