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CLARKE, Ellen. "Anarchy, socialism and a Darwinian left"

Friday 18 January 2008, by ps

Studies in History & Philosophy of Biological & Biomedical Sciences (March 2006) Vol. 37 Issue 1, p. 136-150.


In A Darwinian left Peter Singer aims to reconcile Darwinian theory with left wing politics, using evolutionary game theory and in particular a model proposed by Robert Axelrod, which shows that cooperation can be an evolutionarily successful strategy. In this paper I will show that whilst Axelrod’s model can give support to a kind of left wing politics, it is not the kind that Singer himself envisages. In fact, it is shown that there are insurmountable problems for the idea of increasing Axelrodian cooperation within a welfare state. My surprising conclusion will be that a Darwinian left worthy of the name would be anarchistic.