“Purpose” in science and morality

Footnotes to Plato

IMG_0018A New video in the ongoing Kaufman-Pigliucci series is out, this one on the question of whether teleology, the idea that things have a “purpose” in the strong Aristotelian sense of the word, still makes sense in light of modern science and philosophy.

We begin our discussion by examining various meanings of “purpose” in science and in morality, and then by exploring Aristotle’s take on the subject. I argue that “what is it for?”, i.e., looking for functions, makes perfect sense in evolutionary biology, but not in other sciences, such as chemistry or geology. That’s because of the special role of natural selection in evolution. Accordingly, we explore the relationship between form and function and how the two reciprocally shape each other in living organisms.

We then move to ethics, exploring the idea of moral laws. From there, we discuss the different paths to human flourishing and how they relate…

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