February 21, 2023 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Online and in the Healey Room, Westminster College, Cambridge

Dr Rope Kojonen

On 21st February Dr Rope Kojonen will be giving a research seminar on Re-Evaluating the Darwin-Gray Exchange on the Compatibility of Purpose and Evolution.  Please note that he will be presenting online, though we will be hosting an in-person audience in Cambridge.

Lunch will be provided from 12:30 in the Healey Room, Westminster College, Cambridge.

Abstract

Before Darwin, the apparently purposeful (“teleological”) features of biological organisms were widely believed to be explained by divine design and purpose. Many believe that the Darwinian revolution changed this picture, making design unnecessary for understanding biology – at least unless one rejects evolutionary biology. However, already early on, some – such as Darwin’s friend, the American botanist Asa Gray – saw evolution and biological design arguments as compatible. The advances in understanding conjunctive explanations, as well as advances in biological understanding, create the possibility for re-evaluating the debate between Darwin and Gray, and the question of the compatibility of evolution and design arguments. In this talk, I analyse the traditional anti-evolutionist and Darwinian case against compatibility, and then proceed to the details of the Darwin-Gray exchange. Finally, I evaluate this exchange in light of present day ideas, and conclude by presenting a case for how design and evolution might be understood as complementary, rather than contradictory explanations.

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