In Francisco José Ayala & Robert Arp (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology. Wiley-Blackwell (2008)

Abstract
The question whether ethical behavior is biologically determined may refer either to the capacity for ethics (i.e., the proclivity to judge human actions as either right or wrong), or to the moral norms accepted by human beings for guiding their actions. I herein propose: (1) that the capacity for ethics is a necessary attribute of human nature; and (2) that moral norms are products of cultural evolution, not of biological evolution. Humans exhibit ethical behavior by nature because their biological makeup determines the presence of three necessary conditions for ethical behavior: (i) the ability to anticipate the consequences of one’s own actions; (ii) the ability to make value judgments; and (iii) the ability to choose between alternative courses of action. Ethical behavior came about in evolution not because it is adaptive in itself, but as a necessary consequence of man’s eminent intellectual abilities, which are an attribute directly promoted by natural selection. That is, morally evolved as an exaptation, not as an adaptation. Since Darwin’s time there have been evolutionists proposing that the norms of morality are derived from biological evolution. Sociobiologists represent the most recent and most subtle version of that proposal. The sociobiologists' argument is that human ethical norms are sociocultural correlates of behaviors fostered by biological evolution. I argue that such proposals are misguided and do not escape the naturalistic fallacy. The isomorphism between the behaviors promoted by natural selection and those sanctioned by moral norms exist only with respect to the consequences of the behaviors; the underlying causations are completely disparate.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2010
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,172
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.
On Human Nature.Edward O. Wilson - 1978 - Harvard University Press.

View all 36 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

“Unnatural” Thoughts? On Moral Enhancement of the Human Animal.Norman K. Swazo - 2017 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 20 (3):299-310.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
213 ( #54,436 of 2,517,841 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #409,482 of 2,517,841 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes