Practice Questions

for D. Palmer's Visions of Human Nature

Instructions: The self-assessment exercise for Chapter 7 is a combination of answering and asking questions. Part One contains five questions in the format you are used to from earlier chapters. Part Two sends you to the chapter report form you're all familiar with by now, and an input form where you must submit two questions of your own, to see if you know enough about this chapter to challenge your fellow students. Don't make your questions too hard, though, since I would like to use the questions I get from you for future classes. Please give me one multiple-choice question and one true-false question, taken from different parts of the chapter. Don't click the "SUBMIT" button at the bottom of this page until you have finished taking the test and are ready to submit your own test questions!

Chapter 7 - The Darwinian Vision of Human Nature

Part One, Answering the Questions:

1. The following claims relate to the theory of natural selection as Darwin conceived it, but one of them is incorrect. Which of the following statements is not true of the theory of natural selection?
(a) It leads to the creation of organisms that have been intentionally designed for their environments.
(b) All life is related, with all living species descending from earlier species as a result of their branching out, or speciation, from their ancestral forms.
(c) Speciation is the result of the survival of the fittest, with an organism's genetic heritage determining its relative fitness to survive and reproduce.
(d) It defines what counts as an advantageous genetic heritage only relatively, with respect to the environment an organism finds itself in.
(e) It is possible because of random variation in the genes that parents pass down to their offspring.

2. Which of the following is the best statement of the theory known as social Darwinism?
(a) The laws of evolution mean that social progress can only result from allowing the strong to rise to the top, without the interference of government intervention.
(b) Social forces complicate the natural pressures of evolution and so the best way to improve humankind is to governmentally regulate human breeding patterns.
(c) The combination of selfishness and sympathy for others felt by our ancestors led to the development of a social system that selected for a civilized morality that synthesizes Kantianism, utilitarianism, and Christian morality.
(d) The competition of races with each other justifies a scientific racism and an imperialistic approach to dealing with the barbarous races of mankind.
(e) Many social and moral phenomena that were previously attributed to cultural learning and individual choice are better explained as biological phenomena that have been selected for naturally over time.

3. As Darwin studied the relationships amongst human beings in society, he concluded that which of the following effects could be found?
(a) A number of individuals who are too weak in mind and body to survive in the state of savagery are preserved in the state of civilization.
(b) Sexual selection, which involves the conscious choice of the selector, plays the greater part in determining whose heritable traits get passed on to the next generation.
(c) The better development of the body is favored over time because individuals are provided with good food and spared the occasional random hardship.
(d) The moral qualities are advanced through the effects of habit and reason and of human institutions like religion.
(e) All of the above. Darwin believed that human civilization operates in many ways to check the normal operation of evolution by means of natural selection.

4. According to Donald Palmer, which of the following philosophical positions still make sense if we accept the Darwinian worldview?
(a) Essentialism, which maintains that reality is composed of unchanging essences that can be grasped as mathematical verities and eternal laws.
(b) Speciation, according to which nature is divided up into discrete species which are defined by their ability to breed successfully.
(c) Pragmatism, a kind of instrumentalism in which ideas and actions are viewed as tools for solving practical problems.
(d) Dualism, like that of Descartes, which argues that the mind and the body are composed of two different kinds of substances.
(e) Supernaturalism, which holds that science can or should include a supernatural being as a component in its theories.

5. Although Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection met with protests and criticisms from scientists of his day, objections against Darwinian theory are mostly seen as religious in nature nowadays. Which of the following religious objections to the theory of natural selection were raised by religious thinkers of Darwin's own time?
(a) Religious thinkers maintained that humans were different by virtue of possessing an immortal soul, and thought that Darwin's theory obliterated the distinction between animals and human beings.
(b) Literal readers of the Bible believed that the Genesis creation account ruled out the development of species over millions of years of random natural selection for more advantageous genes.
(c) Theologians who maintained that God created nature in a purposeful way were struck by the purposelessness (lack of a telos or teleology) that the theory of evolution by selection for random mutations implies.
(d) All of the above. Many priests and theologians of Darwin's time believed that the theory of evolution by natural selection was wholly contrary to the Christian picture of the world, for many of the same reasons some modern religious believers object to it.
(e) None of the above. Liberal theologians believed that the fossil record was compatible with the idea of an all-seeing, all-powerful God who had simply used evolution to achieve his overall goal, and had no problem with Darwin's particular formulation of the theory of evolution.

Part Two, Asking the Questions:. When you have finished the quiz, click the "Report" button below to fill in your multiple-choice and true/false questions and send a progess report to the instructor.