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Does the prima facie contradiction between the Declaration of Independence's description of the separate and unique “creation” of human beings and Darwin's evolutionary account indicate a broader contradiction between theories of human rights and Darwinian evolution? While similar troubling questions have been raised and answered in the affirmative since Darwin's time, this article renews, updates and significantly fortifies such answers with original arguments. If a “distilled” formulation of the Declaration's central claims, shorn of complicating entanglements with both theology and comprehensive philosophical doctrines, may still be in contradiction with Darwinian evolutionary theory, this should be cause for substantial concern on the part of all normative political theorists, from Straussians to Rawlsians. Despite the notable recent efforts of a few political theorists, evolutionary ethicists and sociobiologists to establish the compatibility of Darwinian evolutionary theory with moral norms such as the idea of natural or human rights, I argue that significant obstacles remain.
Much of the American debate over physician assisted death (PAD) is framed as an ideological split between conservatives and liberals, pro life and pro choice advocates, and those who emphasize morality versus personal autonomy. Less examined, but no less relevant, is a split within the ranks of progressives—one that divides those supporting a right to die in the name of human rights from disability rights activists who invoke human rights to vehemently oppose euthanasia. This paper reviews how “dignity” serves both as a divisive wedge in this debate but also as a value that can span the divide between groups and open the way to productive discourse. Supporters of legalized euthanasia use “dignity” to express their position that some deaths might indeed be accelerated. At the same time, opponents adopt the concept to argue that physician assisted suicide stigmatizes life with a disability. To bridge this divide, the worldviews of two groups, Compassion & Choices and Not Dead Yet, are studied. The analysis concludes that the two organizations are more parallel than contrary—a finding that offers opportunities for dialogue and perhaps even advances in public policy.
This study examines the cognitive and affective factors of candidate appraisal by manipulating candidate attractiveness and levels of issue agreement with voters. Drawing upon research in evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience, this analysis proposes that automatic processing of physical appearance predisposes affective disposition toward more attractive candidates, thereby influencing cognitive processing of issue information. An experimental design presented attractive and unattractive candidates who were either liberal or conservative in a mock primary election. The data show strong partial effects for appearance on vote intention, an interaction between appearance and issue agreement, and a tendency for voters to assimilate the dissimilar views of attractive candidates. We argue that physical appearance is important in primary elections when the differences in issue positions and ideology between candidates is small.
Periodically, the journal will devote an entire issue's book review section to a single work when it addresses important topics with relevance for many subfields in the study of politics. Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja's Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership is such a work. Naturally Selected addresses topics relevant to American politics, political psychology, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. The following three reviews approach the work from different perspectives and demonstrate the valuable contribution to consilient knowledge made by van Vugt and Ahuja. —Bradley A. Thayer, Book Review Editor