Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking -- staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms -- if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies" -- might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject.Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality.
A consideration of whether the human capacity to make moral judgments is innate and, if so, what implications follow; combines philosophical discussion with the latest findings from the empirical sciences.
The Evolution of Morality
Author: Todd K. Shackelford, Ranald D. Hansen
This interdisciplinary collection presents novel theories, includes provocative re-workings of longstanding arguments, and offers a healthy cross-pollination of ideas to the morality literature. Structures, functions, and content of morality are reconsidered as cultural, religious, and political components are added to the standard biological/environmental mix. Innovative concepts such as the Periodic Table of Ethics and evidence for morality in non-human species illuminate areas for further discussion and research. And some of the book’s contributors question premises we hold dear, such as morality as a product of reason, the existence of moral truths, and the motto “life is good.” Highlights of the coverage: The tripartite theory of Machiavellian morality: judgment, influence, and conscience as distinct moral adaptations. Prosocial morality from a biological, cultural, and developmental perspective. The containment problem and the evolutionary debunking of morality. A comparative perspective on the evolution of moral behavior. A moral guide to depravity: religiously-motivated violence and sexual selection. Game theory and the strategic logic of moral intuitions. The Evolution of Morality makes a stimulating supplementary text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in the evolutionary sciences, particularly in psychology, biology, anthropology, sociology, political science, religious studies, and philosophy
The Moral Animal
Author: Robert Wright
Are men literally born to cheat? Does monogamy actually serve women's interests? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years. Wright unveils the genetic strategies behind everything from our sexual preferences to our office politics--as well as their implications for our moral codes and public policies. Illustrations. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Publisher: MIT Press
For much of the twentieth century, philosophy and science went their separate ways. In moral philosophy, fear of the so-called naturalistic fallacy kept moral philosophers from incorporating developments in biology and psychology. Since the 1990s, however, many philosophers have drawn on recent advances in cognitive psychology, brain science, and evolutionary psychology to inform their work. This collaborative trend is especially strong in moral philosophy, and these volumes bring together some of the most innovative work by both philosophers and psychologists in this emerging interdisciplinary field. The contributors to volume 1 discuss recent work on the evolution of moral beliefs, attitudes, and emotions. Each chapter includes an essay, comments on the essay by other scholars, and a reply by the author(s) of the original essay. Topics include a version of naturalism that avoids supposed fallacies, distinct neurocomputational systems for deontic reasoning, the evolutionary psychology of moral sentiments regarding incest, the sexual selection of moral virtues, the evolution of symbolic thought, and arguments both for and against innate morality. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate the value for both philosophy and psychology of collaborative efforts to understand the many complex aspects of morality.Contributors: William Casebeer, Leda Cosmides, Oliver Curry, Michael Dietrich, Catherine Driscoll, Susan Dwyer, Owen Flanagan, Jerry Fodor, Gilbert Harman, Richard Joyce, Debra Lieberman, Ron Mallon, John Mikhail, Geoffrey Miller, Jesse Prinz, Peter Railton, Michael Ruse, Hagop Sarkissian, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chandra Sekhar Sripada, Valerie Tiberius, John Tooby, Peter Tse, Kathleen Wallace, Arthur Wolf, David Wong Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Professor of Philosophy and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies at Dartmouth College.
The Origins of Morality
Author: Dennis Krebs
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Why do people behave in moral ways in some circumstances, but not in others? In order to account fully for morality, Dennis Krebs departs from traditional approaches to morality that suggest that children acquire morals through socialization, cultural indoctrination, and moral reasoning. He suggests that such approaches can be subsumed, refined, and revised gainfully within an evolutionary framework. Relying on evolutionary theory, Krebs offers an account of how notions of morality originated in the human species. He updates Darwin's early ideas about how dispositions to obey authority, to control antisocial urges, and to behave in altruistic and cooperative ways originated and evolved, then goes on to update Darwin's account of how humans acquired a moral sense. Krebs explains why the theory of evolution does not dictate that all animals are selfish and immoral by nature. On the contrary, he argues that moral behaviors and moral judgments evolved to serve certain functions. Krebs examines theory and research on the evolution of primitive forms of prosocial conduct displayed by humans and other animals, then discusses the evolution of uniquely human prosocial behaviors. He describes how a sense of morality originated during the course of human evolution through strategic social interactions among members of small groups, and how it was expanded and refined in modern societies, explaining how this sense gives rise to culturally universal and culturally relative moral norms. Krebs argues that although humans' unique cognitive abilities endow them with the capacity to engage in sophisticated forms of moral reasoning, people rarely live up their potential in their everyday lives. Four conceptions of what it means to be a moral person are identified, with the conclusion that people are naturally inclined to meet the standards of each conception under certain conditions. The key to making the world a more moral place lies in creating environments in which good guys finish first and cheaters fail to prosper.
Despite wide acceptance that the attributes of living creatures have appeared through a cumulative evolutionary process guided chiefly by natural selection, many human activities have seemed analytically inaccessible through such an approach. Prominent evolutionary biologists, for example, have described morality as contrary to the direction of biological evolution, and moral philosophers rarely regard evolution as relevant to their discussions. The Biology of Moral Systems adopts the position that moral questions arise out of conflicts of interest, and that moral systems are ways of using confluences of interest at lower levels of social organization to deal with conflicts of interest at higher levels. Moral systems are described as systems of indirect reciprocity: humans gain and lose socially and reproductively not only by direct transactions, but also by the reputations they gain from the everyday flow of social interactions. The author develops a general theory of human interests, using senescence and effort theory from biology, to help analyze the patterning of human lifetimes. He argues that the ultimate interests of humans are reproductive, and that the concept of morality has arisen within groups because of its contribution to unity in the context, ultimately, of success in intergroup competition. He contends that morality is not easily relatable to universals, and he carries this argument into a discussion of what he calls the greatest of all moral problems, the nuclear arms race. "Crammed with sage observations on moral dilemmas and many reasons why an understanding of evolution based on natural selection will advance thinking in finding practical solutions to our most difficult social problems." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social SciencesRichard D. Alexander is Donald Ward Tinkle Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, and Curator of Insects, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. A recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Alexander is the author of Darwinism and Human Affairs.
Evolution and Ethics
Author: Philip Clayton, Jeffrey Schloss
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Certain to engage scholars, students, and general readers alike, Evolution and Ethics offers a balanced, levelheaded, constructive approach to an often divisive debate.
Author: Christopher Boehm
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
A noted anthropologist explains how our sense of ethics has changed over the course of human evolution. By the author of Hierarchy of the Forest.
Four principal papers and a total of 43 peer commentaries on the evolutionary origins of morality. To what extent is human morality the outcome of a continuous development from motives, emotions and social behaviour found in nonhuman animals? Jerome Kagan, Hans Kummer, Peter Railton and others discuss the first principal paper by primatologists Jessica Flack and Frans de Waal. The second paper, by cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm, synthesizes social science and biological evidence to support his theory of how our hominid ancestors became moral. In the third paper philosopher Elliott Sober and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson argue that an evolutionary understanding of human nature allows sacrifice for others and ultimate desires for another's good. Finally Brian Skyrms argues that game theory based on adaptive dynamics must join the social scientist's use of rational choice and classical game theory to explain cooperation.
Michael Tomasello offers the most detailed account to date of the evolution of human moral psychology. Based on experimental data comparing great apes and human children, he reconstructs two key evolutionary steps whereby early humans gradually became an ultra-cooperative and, eventually, a moral species capable of acting as a plural agent “we”.
It is certainly the case that morality governs the interactions that take place between individuals. But what if morality exists because of these interactions? This book, first published in 2007, argues for the claim that much of the behaviour we view as 'moral' exists because acting in that way benefits each of us to the greatest extent possible, given the socially structured nature of society. Drawing upon aspects of evolutionary game theory, the theory of bounded rationality, and computational models of social networks, it shows both how moral behaviour can emerge in socially structured environments, and how it can persist even when it is not typically viewed as 'rational' from a traditional economic perspective. This book also provides a theory of how moral principles and the moral sentiments play an indispensable role in effective choice, acting as 'fast and frugal heuristics' in social decision contexts.
Offering the first general introductory text to this subject, the timely Introduction to Evolutionary Ethics reflects the most up-to-date research and current issues being debated in both psychology and philosophy. The book presents students to the areas of cognitive psychology, normative ethics, and metaethics. The first general introduction to evolutionary ethics Provides a comprehensive survey of work in three distinct areas of research: cognitive psychology, normative ethics, and metaethics Presents the most up-to-date research available in both psychology and philosophy Written in an engaging and accessible style for undergraduates and the interested general reader Discusses the evolution of morality, broadening its relevance to those studying psychology
Author: Steven J. Scher, Frederick Rauscher
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
Evolutionary psychology has been dominated by one particular method for studying the mind and behavior. This is the first book to both question that monopoly and suggest a broad range of particular alternatives. Psychologists, philosophers, biologists, anthropologists, and others offer different methods for combining psychology and evolution. They recommend specific changes to evolutionary psychology using a wide variety of theoretical assumptions. In addition, some essays analyze the underpinnings of the dominant method, relate it to the context of evolutionary and psychological theory and to general philosophy of science, and discuss how to test approaches to evolutionary psychology. The aim of this collection is not to reject evolutionary psychology but to open up new vistas which students and researchers can use to ensure that evolutionary psychology continues to thrive.
This book highlights the recent re-emergence of Edward Westermarck's work in modern approaches to morality and altruism, examining his importance as one of the founding fathers of anthropology and as a moral relativist, who identified our moral feelings with biologically-evolved retributive emotions. Questioning the extent to which current debates on the relationship between biology and morality are similar to those in which Westermarck himself was involved, the authors ask what can be learnt from his arguments and from the criticism that he encountered. Drawing on Westermarck's manuscripts and papers as well as his published work, the authors show the importance of situating debates, whether modern or classical, in their correct methodological and philosophical context. This volume is a rigorous assessment of the ways in which morality is connected with human biological nature. It plays close attention to the development of debates in this field and will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology and philosophy.