Over at the ZMan blog, the ZMan has a post concerning natural reason, specifically the ability of reason to answer the big questions of life: How should a man live his life? How should we organize our societies and to what end? The ZMan does not think these questions can be answered:
The truth of it is, a truth Gregory Clark surely knows, is that nature is silent on those big questions about how we ought to live and organize our societies. Nature cares about one thing and that is fitness. Specifically, every living thing is driven by its gene’s desire to make it to the next round of the game. If your genes make even a partial copy of themselves in the form of your children, that is a win. How you make that happen is of no interest to your genes or Mother Nature.
This position, which might be called Darwinian Positivism, has always struck me as manifestly absurd. Isn't it obvious that human behavior is deeper and more complex than anything that can be captured in a simple causal analysis like the "gene's desire to make it to the next round of the game?" Voluntary celibacy may be unusual but it is hardly unknown and in fact has historically been admired as a higher form of life. The ZMan himself, I understand, has no children.
In fact, the ubiquity of abortion and contraception in modern society would seem to clearly falsify any notion that human nature is "driven" by the gene's desire to reproduce. In fact, we indulge in those things to the point that we no longer reproduce at replacement rate. That is only possible if there is some other source of human behavior powerful enough to overcome any desire to reproduce.