Keywords: Adam Smith (3)

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Darwin and Design, Fall 2003

Darwin and Design, Fall 2003

In Origin of Species, Darwin provided a model for understanding the existence ... (more)

In Origin of Species, Darwin provided a model for understanding the existence of objects and systems manifesting evidence of design without positing a designer, and of purpose and mechanism without intelligent agency. Texts deal with pre-Darwinian and later treatment of this topic within literature and speculative thought since the eighteenth century, with some attention to the modern study of "feedback mechanism" in artificial intelligence. Readings in Hume, Voltaire, Malthus, Darwin, Butler, Hardy, H. G. Wells, and Freud. This subject offers a broad survey of texts (both literary and philosophical) drawn from the Western tradition and selected to trace the immediate intellectual antecedents and some of the implications of the ideas animating Darwin's revolutionary On the Origin of Species. Darwin's text, of course, is about the mechanism that drives the evolution of life on this planet, but the fundamental ideas of the text have implications that range well beyond the scope of natural history, and the assumptions behind Darwin's arguments challenge ideas that go much further back than the set of ideas that Darwin set himself explicitly to question - ideas of decisive importance when we think about ourselves, the nature of the material universe, the planet that we live upon, and our place in its scheme of life. In establishing his theory of natural selection, Darwin set himself, rather self-consciously, to challenge a whole way of thinking about these things. The main focus of attention will be Darwin's contribution to the so-called "argument from design" - the notion that innumerable aspects of the world (and most particularly the organisms within it) display features directly analogous to objects of human design and, since design implies a designer, that an intelligent, conscious agency must have been responsible for their organization and creation. Previously, it had been argued that such features must have only one of two ultimate sources - chance or conscious agency. Darwin proposed and elaborated a third source, which he called Natural Selection, an unconscious agency capable of outdoing the most complex feats of human intelligence. The course of study will not only examine the immediate inspiration for this idea in the work of Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus and place Darwin's Origin and the theory of Natural Selection in the history of ensuing debate, but it will also touch upon related issues. (less)

Subject:
Humanities
Social Sciences
Material Type:
Full Course
Homework and Assignments
Syllabi
Collection:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Provider:
M.I.T.
Author:
Kibel, Alvin C.
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Foundations of Modern Social Theory

Foundations of Modern Social Theory

This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from ... (more)

This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. (less)

Subject:
Social Sciences
Material Type:
Audio Lectures
Readings
Syllabi
Video Lectures
Collection:
Open Yale Courses
Provider:
Yale University
Author:
Iv’n Szel’Šnyi
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History of Economic Ideas

History of Economic Ideas

The history of economic thought represents a wide diversity of theories within ... (more)

The history of economic thought represents a wide diversity of theories within the discipline, but all economists address these three basic questions: what to produce, how to produce it, and for whom. The student will learn that without a clear sense of the discussions and debates that took place among economists of the past, the modern economist lacks a complete perspective. By examining the history of economic thought, the student will be able to categorize and classify thoughts and ideas and will begin to understand how to think like an economist. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: Explain and analyze the development of economics as a discipline in various ancient cultures; Trace the development of European economic thought and analyze concepts in historical context; Compare and contrast Classical economic theories; Synthesize the elements of Neo-Classical and Keynesian approaches in the modern era; Evaluate the merits of alternative approaches to maximizing happiness. (Economics 301) (less)

Subject:
Social Sciences
Material Type:
Assessments
Full Course
Homework and Assignments
Readings
Syllabi
Video Lectures
Collection:
Saylor Foundation
Provider:
The Saylor Foundation
Read the Fine Print
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Subject:
Science and Technology
Material Type:
Assessments
Full Course
Homework and Assignments
Lecture Notes
Syllabi
Collection:
MIT OpenCourseWare
Provider:
M.I.T.
Author:
George Kocur
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