Philosophy of Evolution: Scientific Judgement Problem

Philosophy of Evolution
John Edward Mulvihill,
S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.


The dissertation will have three parts: analytic, heuristic, and synthetic.1

The first, and analytic, part will be a survey of literature covering 120 Neo-Scholastic philosophers of the twentieth century, with sixteen philosophers from the Gregorian University in Rome, eleven at other Roman universities and academies, thirteen from France, eight of German extraction, two from Ireland, ten from Italy, thirty-eight from North America, one from Poland, four from South America, seven from Spain, and nine from the Vatican. The special emphasis on the Gregorian University is to test and describe the development of philosophy concerning evolution among an inter-acting group of Neo-Scholastics. Analysis of a number of philosophers is warranted because of the multiple implications of evolution, because of the desire to avoid reductionism, and because the problem is not an easy one.2

The second, or heuristic, part will attempt to discover problems in terminology, problems in judgment from the point of view of both philosophy and science, problems with reasoning concerning the proof of evolution, and problems with belief and ideology. These problems will be discovered from the survey of literature as preliminary conclusions.3

The third, or synthetic, part of the dissertation will be the development of a philosophy course with reference to the views on evolution by Neo-Scholastic philosophers.4 Thirteen theses or propositions to be proved are listed below in three categories:

Evolution Philosophically:

1. Evolutionism is philosophically possible.

2. Evolutionism needs some concept of purpose.

3. Evolutionism is incompatible with Mechanicism.

4. Evolutionism is incompatible with Materialism.

5. Evolutionism is compatible with Hylemorphism.

Evolution of Man:

6. Certainly, man is essentially different from other animals.

7. Possibly, the human body has evolved.

8. Certainly, the human soul has not evolved.

9. Future biological evolution of man is unlikely, and equivocal.

Evolution as Fruitful Idea:

10. Evolutionary abiogenesis is probable, but equivocal.

11. Cosmic evolution is possible, but equivocal.

12. Social evolution is unlikely, but equivocal.

13. Atheistic evolution is impossible, and equivocal.

Thus, questions will be raised and answered concerning three categories: concerning the philosophy of evolution itself, concerning the evolution of man, and concerning the fruitfulness of the idea of evolution. First, relative to each thesis in this proposed course of philosophy, an attempt will be made to give the state of the question in terms of history. Then the participants in the dialogue, or opponents, will be noted. Thirdly, definitions and divisions of terms will be considered. Fourth, the question needing a reply will be proposed. Fifth, an attempt will be made to give some philosophical foundations for each thesis from St. Thomas Aquinas; although it is clear that a twelfth century philosopher and theologian did not directly treat the issue of evolution which arose in the middle of the nineteenth century. Sixth, some attempt will be made to prove each thesis philosophically in terms familiar to all Neo-Scholastics. Finally, some attempt will be made to assess the level of certitude of each of the thirteen theses, since some statements are proposed in a more serious way that others.

Author: John Edward Mulvihill,S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
Copyright 2009 by The Genealogist,3236 Lincoln, Franklin Park, IL 60131 U.S.A.