Preliminaries If ethics is widely regarded as the most accessible branch of philosophy, it is so because many of its presuppositions are self-evident or trivial truths: At least for secularists, the attainment of these overall aims is thought to be a condition or prerequisite for a good life. What we regard as a life worth living depends on the notion we have of our own nature and of the conditions of its fulfillment.
History[ edit ] The first notable attempt to explore links between evolution and ethics was made by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man In Chapters IV and V of that work Darwin set out to explain the origin of human morality in order to show that there was no absolute gap between man and animals.
Darwin sought to show how a refined moral sense, or conscience, could have developed through a natural evolutionary process that began with social instincts rooted in our nature as social animals.
Leading Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner sought to apply the lessons of biological evolution to social and political life.
Just as in nature, they claimed, progress occurs through a ruthless process of competitive struggle and "survival of the fittest," so human progress will occur only if government allows unrestricted business competition and makes no effort to protect the "weak" or "unfit" by means of social welfare laws.
MooreWilliam Jamesand John Dewey roundly criticized such attempts to draw ethical and political lessons from Darwinism, and by the early decades of the twentieth century Social Darwinism was widely viewed as discredited.
In that work, Wilson argues that there is a genetic basis for a wide variety of human and nonhuman social behaviors. In recent decades, evolutionary ethics has become a lively topic of debate in both scientific and philosophical circles.
Descriptive evolutionary ethics[ edit ] See also: Evolution of morality The most widely accepted form of evolutionary ethics is descriptive evolutionary ethics. Descriptive evolutionary ethics seeks to explain various kinds of moral phenomena wholly or partly in genetic terms.
Ethical topics addressed include altruistic behaviors, an innate sense of fairness, a capacity for normative guidance, feelings of kindness or love, self-sacrifice, incest-avoidance, parental care, in-group loyalty, monogamy, feelings related to competitiveness and retributionmoral "cheating," and hypocrisy.
A key issue in evolutionary psychology has been how altruistic feelings and behaviors could have evolved, in both humans and nonhumans, when the process of natural selection is based on the multiplication over time only of those genes that adapt better to changes in the environment of the species.
Theories addressing this have included kin selectiongroup selectionand reciprocal altruism both direct and indirect, and on a society-wide scale. Descriptive evolutionary ethicists have also debated whether various types of moral phenomena should be seen as adaptations which have evolved because of their direct adaptive benefits, or spin-offs that evolved as side-effects of adaptive behaviors.
Normative evolutionary ethics[ edit ] Normative evolutionary ethics is the most controversial branch of evolutionary ethics.
Normative evolutionary ethics aims at defining which acts are right or wrong, and which things are good or bad, in evolutionary terms. It is not merely describing, but it is prescribing goals, values and obligations. Social Darwinismdiscussed above, is the most historically influential version of normative evolutionary ethics.
Moore famously argued, many early versions of normative evolutionary ethics seemed to commit a logical mistake that Moore dubbed the naturalistic fallacy. This was the mistake of defining a normative property, such as goodness, in terms of some non-normative, naturalistic property, such as pleasure or survival.
More sophisticated forms of normative evolutionary ethics need not commit either the naturalistic fallacy or the is-ought fallacy.
But all varieties of normative evolutionary ethics face the difficult challenge of explaining how evolutionary facts can have normative authority for rational agents. Evolutionary ethicists such as Michael RuseE.The Basis of Morality This so-called ‘Divine Command Theory’ of morality has had many prominent defenders.
And yet, it is by no means self-evident that our sense of right and wrong, and the codes of behavior we are expected to follow, come from a supernatural source. The following analysis will criticize the claim that morality.
An Academic Lawyer Plays Armchair Analyst: Some Speculations on the Relevance of Psychoanalysis to the Law Leonard V. Kaplan,An Academic Lawyer Plays Armchair Analyst: Some Speculations on the Relevance of Psychoanalysis to the Law, 46 sive .
Evolutionary ethics is a field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality.
The range of issues investigated by evolutionary ethics is quite broad. The Implicit Teaching Of Utopian Speculations: Rousseau's Contribution To The Natural Law Tradition Thomas E. Carbonneau* morality equation by distinguishing them as two separate spheres of activity.) Subsequent philosophers, thanks to the analogy be- analysis, although in a less sophisticated way.
See, e.g., Holmes, The Path of Law, From Thales, an analysis of the many speculations on morality who is often considered the first Western philosopher, to the Stoics and Skeptics, ancient Greek philosophy opened A character analysis of alison in millers tales by chaucer the an analysis of the many speculations on morality doors to.
Subulate Warren re-emphasizes, his magnetizers. Dive deep into Joan Didion with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion Joan Didion Analysis. Homework Help In the essay “On Morality,” Didion says that the only kind of morality.