It may be that the organism-centered view of evolution is a holdover from religious views of the origin of life. If we think of God as our creator, we naturally picture him as especially concerned with our welfare, particularly our life and death. By extension, then, we imagine him concerned with the individual lives of the organisms he has created: he has created them in order that they should live and die. Creation thus centers round the individual organism, construed as a quasi-self. When we switch to secular Darwinism we naturally cleave to the organism-centered perspective, only now with Nature in the place of God. But nature does not have the concerns of God and is quite indifferent to the welfare of animals and humans. We need to take the final step away from Creationism and recognize that nature (i.e. natural processes) is not responsive to questions of individual survival but only to the prevalence of traits: traits are not morally significant but they are the materials through which evolution operates. Nature selects traits, often very basic ones, and these are not equivalent to selves or even insentient life forms. The idea that God would choose to create traits for their own sake is bizarre, but it is very much the modus operandi of impersonal nature. Individual organisms just happen to be where traits cluster. From the point of view of nature, I am just a trait location.
0 0 Colin McGinn Colin McGinn2021-07-13 14:42:372021-07-13 14:47:52Missing footnote from the end of Survival of the Fittest