| Thinking hardly|
or hardly thinking?
|Major trains of thought|
|The good, the bad|
and the brain fart
|Come to think of it|
Mary Midgley (1919-2018) was a British philosopher who specialized in ethics and wrote extensively on moral philosophy, epistemology, science, and animal rights. Midgley was an atheist and argued for a naturalistic understanding of the universe, but opposed reductionism and scientism. Her first book, Beast and Man (1978), attacked both human exceptionalism that places humanity outside the natural realm and overly reductionist sociobiology that denies human agency and morality. Midgley notably wrote a hyperbolic response to Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and J.L. Mackie's review of said book, claiming that their rhetorical anthropomorphism and equivocation led to an implicit endorsement of psychological egoism. Dawkins replied, with some justification, that this was a straw man and he had been misread. Midgley later apologized for her initial bombast, but reiterated her criticisms of neo-Darwinism. Midgley was unfortunately prone to endorsing dubious ideas and figures that flirt with pseudoscience or openly promote it. She was a booster of James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis and later endorsed the antics of Rupert Sheldrake.
- Clare Mac Cumhaill, Rachael Wiseman, Metaphysical Animals, "How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life," Chatto and Windus, ISBN 9781784743284, (2022).
- Anil Gomes, "Metaphysical Animals review – four women who changed philosophy," The Guardian, Feb. 10, 2022, accessed Mar. 20, 2022.
- Jane Heal, "Mary Midgley obituary," The Guardian, Oct. 12, 2018, accessed Sep. 20, 2019.
- David L. Hull. Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature by Mary Midgley. The Philosophical Review, Vol. 90, No. 2 (Apr., 1981), pp. 307-310
- Mary Midgley. "Gene Juggling", Philosophy, vol 54, no. 210, 1979, pp. 439–458
- Richard Dawkins. In Defence of Selfish Genes. Philosophy Vol. 56, No. 218 (Oct., 1981), pp. 556-573
- Mary Midgley. "Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism", Philosophy, vol 58, 1983, pp. 365–377
- See Myths We Live By (2002)
- Mary Midgley. The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake - review. The Guardian, 27 Jan. 2012