A Darwinian Pilgrim’s Early Progress


  • Michael Ruse Florida State University




teleology, sociobiology, debunking argument, Darwinian theory, History and Philosophy of Science


Part one of three in an autobiographical series which retraces the most significant events, collaborations, and research results of Michael Ruse’s 55-year-long career in the history and philosophy of science. In this article, Ruse’s Quaker roots, his subsequent loss of faith, and the first engagement with the study of natural science are recalled before delving deeper into his academic career. The main topics summarized in this walkthrough are considered chronologically as they developed: the epistemological demonstration that the Darwinian theory was not a narrative, or inferior, kind of science but a full-fledged, consilient research programme founded on genetics (early 1970s); the history of teleology in biological thought (mid-1970s); the sociobiology controversy (late 1970s); the so-called debunking argument and the is-ought fallacy (early 1980s).

Author Biography

Michael Ruse, Florida State University

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program at Florida State University in Tallahasee. His teaching career (so far) spans 55 years. A philosopher of science, Ruse specializes in the philosophy of biology and the relationship between science and religion. His focus includes the creation–evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science.


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How to Cite

Ruse, M. (2019). A Darwinian Pilgrim’s Early Progress. Journal of Cognitive Historiography, 4(2), 151-164. https://doi.org/10.1558/jch.37782