Larry Arnhart

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Larry Arnhart
Nationality American
Fields History of Political Philosophy, Religion and Political Thought, Ethics of Biotechnology, Philosophy of Science and Technology, Biopolitical Theory, American Political Thought
Institutions Northern Illinois University
Idaho State University
Rosary College
Alma mater University of Chicago
University of Dallas
Known for Darwinian conservative theory

Larry Arnhart is a Presidential Research Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. His areas of teaching and research include the history of political philosophy, biopolitical theory, and American political thought. Arnhart is the author of five books and more than thirty peer-reviewed articles.[1]

He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1977, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1974, and a B.A. in Politics from the University of Dallas in 1971.[2]

In the Department of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, Arnhart teaches in the fields of political theory and biopolitics.

Arnhart is best known as a scholar in the history of political philosophy and as a proponent of "Darwinian natural right," "Darwinian conservatism," and "Aristotelian liberalism."[3] He argues that the tradition of ethical naturalism from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas to Alasdair MacIntyre can be supported by a Darwinian account of ethics as rooted in human biological nature, which combines liberty and order, freedom and virtue.

In defending Darwinian naturalism, Arnhart has debated the proponents of "intelligent design theory" by suggesting that they employ a purely negative rhetoric of criticizing Darwinian evolutionary theory, while offering no positive theory of exactly where, when, and how the "intelligent designer" intervenes in nature to create "irreducibly complex" mechanisms.

Arnhart has debated the leading advocates of intelligent designMichael Behe, William Dembski, John West, Jonathan Wells, and Richard Weikart—all of whom are fellows of the Discovery Institute. John West has written a book attacking Arnhart — Darwin's Conservatives: A Misguided Quest.[4]

In defending Darwinian conservatism, Arnhart tries to persuade conservatives that Darwinian science supports the conservative belief that social order arises not from rational planning but from the spontaneous order of instincts and habits.[5] He suggests that Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history.[6]

He has also developed a Darwinian argument for classical liberalism.[7]

Presently, Arnhart is working on a fourth edition of his book Political Questions and two new books — Darwinian Liberalism and Twenty Darwinian Desires.


  • "Human Nature is Here to Stay", The New Atlantis, Number 2, Summer 2003, pp. 65-78
  • Aristotle on Political Reasoning: A Commentary on the “Rhetoric”. (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1981; paperback edition, 1986).
  • Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Rawls, first edition (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987), second edition (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1993), third edition (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2002). Turkish translation: Siyasi Dusunce Tarihi (Ankara: Adres Yayinlari, 2004).
  • Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998).
  • Darwinian Conservatism (Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2005).
  • Darwinian Conservatism: A Disputed Question (Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2009).


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