Scarily Scathing: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, by Thomas Nagel

Having read Mind and Cosmos, in which Thomas Nagel argues that evolutionary theory must be supplemented with teleology because Nagel feels that current Darwinism is kinda iffy, and can assure you that it's every bit as shoddy as the most negative reviews around the web would have you believe. Here's a selection:
Not only doesn’t Nagel deliver: he strikes out three times, with three distinct arguments as to why we should reject natural selection in its current, materialist form. Each of the book’s three main thrusts – involving consciousness, theoretical knowledge, and morality – begets a unique species of error. [...]

Teleology is certainly possible, and Nagel is not wrong to ask us to set aside our materialist presuppositions to consider radical alternatives. But he also needs to provide us with good reasons for believing that such radical alternatives are necessary. Nagel is unconvincing on this score, because it is not clear that the we must amend scientific theories to solve philosophical problems, in such a way as to guarantee the maximal intelligibility of the world; or that intelligibility must be linked to probability; or that an evolutionary origin for cognition is self-undermining; or that moral realism and natural selection are incompatible (and if so, that it is the latter rather than the former that must be amended).

Nagel never explains why his intuition should count for so much

H. Allen Orr, "Awaiting a New Darwin", The New York Review of Books

The sufficiency of genetic variation to drive natural selection has been a central theme since R A Fisher’s great book, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. Nagel, a philosopher, tells us there’s not enough. Big result! But it’s completely unsupported by argument. Nagel says that he would “like to defend the untutored reaction of incredulity to neo-Darwinism … It is prima facie highly implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection”. This is just irresponsible. It is simply wrong to adjudicate the probability of mutations by an “untutored reaction of incredulity”.

Mohan Matthen, "Thomas Nagel's Untutored Reaction of Incredulity", The Philosopers Magazine

Are we really supposed to abandon a massively successful scientific research program because Nagel finds some scientific claims hard to square with what he thinks is obvious and “undeniable,” such as his confidence that his “clearest moral…reasonings are objectively valid”? [...]

We may, of course, be wrong in having abandoned teleology and the supernatural as our primary tools for understanding and explaining the natural world, but the fact that “common sense” conflicts with a layman’s reading of popular science writing is not a good reason for thinking so. [...]

Nagel’s arguments against reductionism are quixotic, and his arguments against naturalism are unconvincing. He aspires to develop “rival alternative conceptions” to what he calls the materialist neo-Darwinian worldview, yet he never clearly articulates this rival conception, nor does he give us any reason to think that “the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two.”

Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg, "Do You Only Have a Brain? On Thomas Nagel", The Nation

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