Evolution of Morality

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The Evolution of Morality

The Evolution of Morality

Punishment seems important in human culture and evolutionary history. When Darwin began considering the evolution of morality, he reflected on a possible role for the "fear of others acting in unison" and "the fear of punishment" (M Notebook, p. 151; Darwin 1871, p. 92). However, punitive behavior cannot be assumed. It costs extra effort or resources. Humans, nonetheless, accept personal cost to ensure group benefits in anonymous experimental situations. Moreover, others respond to their punitive actions (Fehr and Gächter 2002). A norm of cooperation can be learned and enforced through punishment. Punishment of selfish behavior seems present in all human cultures. They include not only different nations on different continents and Oceania but also cultures with widely divergent environments, economies (from foraging and pastoralism to industrialism), and residence patterns (from nomadic to sedentary; Heinrich et al. 2006; Hermann et al. 2008). Most important, perhaps, negative sanctions are found in small mobile hunter-gatherer cultures—similar to our Paleolithic ancestors—where they help maintain egalitarian societies (Boehm 1999).
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Lecture two: The evolution of morality: The emergence of personhood

Lecture two: The evolution of morality: The emergence of personhood

I believe that Paul Ricoeur’s profound vision of deep empathy for others also opens up a way to bridge the gap between evolutionary and theological meta-narratives by making a proposal for a bottom-up, contextual form of evolutionary ethics and then specifically to ask how this might apply to the evolution of morality, to ethical judgements, and the status of ethical judgements and moral codes in theology. Most importantly, this will imply a Christian ethics, and a notion of morality that proceed not ‘top down’ from a consideration of rules, duties, rights, moral judgements and moral status, but proceeds rather, from the examination of the fundamental evolutionary realities of human nature, that is, from a natural history of morality. I will develop this argument against the background of an analysis of Maxine Sheets-Johnstone’s engagement with the work of Hannah Arendt on the notion of evil, and in conversation with Richard Joyce as well as the most recent work on the origins of morality by anthropologist, Christopher Boehm. Finally, I argue that the work of evolutionary ethicists is of great importance for theologians because of their direct interest in how the evolutionary origins of human behaviour are to be explained, and in which way our behaviour has been constrained, but not determined, by biological factors. Following from our discussion of niche construction in Lecture One, it will be clear that evolution by natural selection and genetics can play an important role in our tendency to think in normative terms, that is, our innate sense of moral awareness. However, evolutionary explanations of this moral awareness cannot explain our moral judgements,
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Teaching the Evolution of Morality: Status and Resources

Teaching the Evolution of Morality: Status and Resources

A final set of books earn mention because they help frame the limits of evolutionary approaches to morality and culture. They are mostly cautionary in tone. For example, many persons imagine that evolution might ultimately resolve the question of “human nature” or what moral principles “ really ” are (or should be). A healthy check is provided both by Paul Farber’s The Temptations of Evolutionary Ethics (1994) and by Michael Bradie’s The Secret Chain (1994). Each discusses how trying to justify particular human values from the facts of evolution fails. Farber’s book is more historical, Bradie’s more philosoph- ical. Both underscore the problem of naturalizing cultural ideologies—that is, ascribing one’s own cultural beliefs to nature. Richard Joyce echoes similar sentiments in The Evolution of Morality (2006), using more philosophical prose (and correspondingly less biological rigor); he concludes, characteristically, “we should reject or modify any theory that would render us epistemic slaves to the baby-bearing capacities of our ancestors ” (p. 219).
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Why We Need to Teach the Evolution of Morality

Why We Need to Teach the Evolution of Morality

On the occasion of the Darwin bicentennial (and the sesquicentennial of the Origin of Species), we might find some newfound confidence about the outlines of the evolution of morality, echoing Darwin's concerns—yet also updated with modern research. While current textbooks do typically address this topic, the treatment is generally incomplete and tends to exhibit an outmoded reductionistic bias (fuller, more detailed analysis in Allchin 2009b, d). Updating knowledge on this topic may be challenging and require a little extra homework for teachers. What does someone need to know to understand the evolution and biology of morality effectively? Not that much, really. The basic concepts and examples already available in standard textbooks need to be simply highlighted, extended, and further synthesized. In a complementary paper, therefore, I provide a textbook-insert and an organizational framework of this rapidly growing field (Allchin 2009c). Accompa- nying classroom resources (including images and video links) and a discussion of teaching strategies are available online (Allchin 2009a). A survey of books is provided in another contribution (Allchin 2009d). With these resources, we may teach more fully what evolution means—not just as a unifying principle of biology, but as a great insight into what it means to be a human with a deep organic history.
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The ethological roots of morality

The ethological roots of morality

For ethics, this point suggests three conclusions; first, it is possible that we are equipped with a morality which is conducive to the survival of groups rather than the individual, but that we might be un­ aware of the pattern produced by what seems to us to be specific rel­ ations between individuals only. Second, it is likely that our moral conduct is, in general, limited; that there are certain activities that evolution has selected against in us because of their disruptive nature when taken as part of the social pattern. Hence, even activities which we might believe to be moral may be outside the power of most men to perform and may, indeed, generate quite unforseen consequences. Third, the adequacy of conventional morality to.support the survival of groups of individuals should be noted. Even where conventional morality is strange and confusing to us, in the moral sy stems of primitive human communities, for example, it may produce a social pattern which is in continuous adjustment with the environment, though it would have been difficult for us to trace the pattern from the individual actions, and even though it might be impossible for us to formulate new codes.. of individual action which would fulfill the same function so efficiently. This is, perhaps, an argument against an over-vaunting confidence in our
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The morality of extraterritorial punishment

The morality of extraterritorial punishment

Before going any further, I need to make this assumption thinner and more plausible in the light o f the relevant literature on rights. First o f all, using a rights-based theory does not amount to saying that morality in general is exclusively rights-based. There are some convincing objections against the latter claim, which I need not consider here.11 It may be enough to note how implausible it seems to claim that rights are the sole source o f moral value. Secondly, for a given theory to be rights-based, rights need not necessarily figure in its first premise. Clearly enough, some rights will be based on some more fundamental right or sets o f rights. For instance, the specific right to write a political pamphlet is normally grounded on the right to freedom o f expression. But not all rights are necessarily valued for rights-related reasons. Some basic or ultimate rights will usually be grounded on considerations that are, themselves, not framed in the language o f rights. For example, in Dworkin’s theory o f rights the fundamental right to be treated with equal concern and respect is not grounded on a more fundamental right but on human beings’ dignity or their political equality.12 Similarly, other rights, such as the right o f individuals to criticise their government, are usually considered important wholly or primarily as the instrument o f social goods. Thus, right-statements work as some kind o f middle-level reasons which can help us tackle difficult philosophical issues. In Raz’s words, they “belong to the ground level o f practical thought in which we use simple-to-apply rules”.13
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Morality in intergroup conflict

Morality in intergroup conflict

When group members participate in intergroup conflict, they invest time and effort, and risk injury or death on behalf of their group. Individuals can direct these costly contributions toward helping fellow in-group members, harming out-group members, or both. They can also direct their contributions toward helping out-group members. Research using economic games has found that, faced with a choice to help in-group members either with or without harming out-group members, most individuals prefer to help in-group members without harming out- group members [11]. In addition, helping in-group members without harming out-group members is rewarded with higher social status than helping in-group members while also harming out-group members [12]. Interestingly, groups reward parochial helping more than universal helping: Individuals who help fellow in-group members are conferred higher status than those who use their resources to help both in-group and out-group members [13]. Despite the robust preference for “in-group love” over “out-group hate”, certain aggravating conditions spur harm to out-groups. For example, interactions with morality-based out-groups, such as the members of a fascist political party, have been shown to increase resource allocations aimed at harming out-group members [14].
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Contractarianism as a Political Morality

Contractarianism as a Political Morality

constrains role morality: in other words, we cannot obligate an agent qua role-bearer to do anything that she is prohibited-qua-agent from doing. If this principle held, then from the fact that a political morality obligates the state to φ we could infer that interpersonal morality permits the state to φ and therefore the correct theory of legitimacy requires the people to allow the state to φ. But in this scenario the correct political morality, whatever it is, still wouldn’t ground any of the facts as to what the people are obligated to allow the state to do. 17 And surely a theory doesn’t count as a theory of legitimacy if it doesn’t tell us how such facts are grounded. So if the first inference is valid then contractarianism could nevertheless be the true political morality while being a false theory of legitimacy.
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Legal Enforcement of Morality

Legal Enforcement of Morality

A person's "own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant" for society to exercise power over that person.' 0 With regard to conduct "which merely concerns himself, his[r]

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Karma, morality, and evil

Karma, morality, and evil

activity such as smoking, whose strongly addictive character may preclude its being straightforwardly described as freely chosen on anyone’s account.20 But if we return again to Arjuna o[r]

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Medical staff morality

Medical staff morality

The study's purpose was to study the influence of the state on the moral values and moral choices of medical staff – doctors and nurses. The study object was the normative acts of the state and international organizations, as well as medical workers as carriers of morality and ethical behaviour. The study subject was ethical standards and the commitment of an individual or a group to ethical behaviour during medical activities at work. Our study used some legal-based research methods in qualitative content analysis, a sociological survey with questionnaires, statistical data processing, structural indicators, data grouping, table construction, graphical, and comparison methods.
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Morality as natural history

Morality as natural history

In summary, the Humean-Darwinian account of morality suggests that moral values include promoting the common good by caring for family members, adopting local norms, keeping promises, punishing cheats, resolving disputes peacefully, and respecting prior ownership. This whistle-stop tour of substantive moral philosophy suggests that, irrespective of their various meta-ethical starting points, a diverse range of moral philosophers and ethical traditions have come to similar substantive conclusions about the content of morality. One way of interpreting this convergence is that moral philosophers have, in the first instance, been trying to articulate and make sense of the content of their moral intuitions; and that different theorists have articulated different aspects of their moral intuitions and the moral psychologies of those around them, perhaps as a result of the different ways that their moral psychologies have developed under different conditions in different times and places. If this is the case, then the Humean-Darwinian account has the potential to show why these different strands of traditional moral philosophy are not alternatives; and it provides a principled framework for weaving them into a comprehensive account of moral value. In addition, the Humean-Darwinian account suggests that, in the future, we can supplement these second-hand reports of moral values by going directly to the source, investigating moral psychology as we would any other aspect of psychology.
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Tragedy, morality and metaphysics

Tragedy, morality and metaphysics

according to Hegel, is the true problem which leads Kant from morality to theology: duty on the one hand, and Nature on the other, present themselves as independent and mutually indifferent, and each as absolute; a contradiction that Kant tries to resolve by postulating a moral author of the world. 29 Hegel does not, of course, himself endorse the Kantian-Fichtean ‘Moral world-view’, indeed his aim is to show that it fails to overcome the contradiction; but he both accepts that his predecessors’ philosophy articulates correctly the aspect of moral consciousness which is expressed (in isolation, whence its deficiency) in what Hegel calls Moralität, and he is himself committed to pursuing the same task of showing, with respect to his own conception of morality, how it expands legitimately into a world-characterisation. The point to be retained from Hegel’s discussion is therefore that moral consciousness, operating under its own steam, is bound to generate the Kantian characterisation of the world as capable of providing compensating for the moral indifference of nature, a representation which rests in turn on the deeper characterisation of the world as a unity of
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Politics and Morality are Inseparable

Politics and Morality are Inseparable

The past few months, it seems we have all been hearing a lot of talk about religion and its role in politics, religion and its place in the political life of the n[r]

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Morality and the 'Naturalness' of Transgenic Animals

Morality and the 'Naturalness' of Transgenic Animals

Also important in our consideration of the relation between facts and values is the Cartesian dualism associated with modern natural science. Many of the confusions inherent in discussions about morality and nature are due to this Cartesian dualism between man, defined as 'subject' (res cogitans) and nature, defined as 'object' (res extensa). Epistemologically we can say that the acquisition of knowledge by necessity presupposes a distinction between a knowing subject and an object to be known. In this distinction the object may be something we experience as being outside of us (a table, another person, a flower, etc.), but it may just as well be an inner experience which may become the object of our knowledge. This epistemological distinction, based upon our direct experience (first-person perspective) does not say anything about the nature of the object perceived. The problems with Cartesian dualism do not arise if interpreted in this epistemological sense. The problems crop up when it is interpreted as an ontological distinction between two completely distinct and unrelated worlds, res cogitans and res extensa.
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Discourse and tractable morality

Discourse and tractable morality

After discussing discourse theory, the conclusion is that discourse theory can help business ethics in many different ways.. It is shown what a discourse description or analysis within b[r]

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Is There a Place for Morality in Law?

Is There a Place for Morality in Law?

Al- though for Finnis morality, in terms of practical reasonableness, should be a central concern of a legal order, he does not deny the basic positivist thesis of the concep- tual dist[r]

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Morality and a Meaningful Life

Morality and a Meaningful Life

More precisely, then, the thesis that I should like to defend in this essay is that the sentiments characteristic of being moral are a deep aspect of being psychologically healthy and[r]

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The Morality of Immigration Policy

The Morality of Immigration Policy

Immigration policy involves numerous actors and interests other than the immigrants themselves and their families: the local, regional, and national communities in the states of origin[r]

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The Morality of Human Rights

The Morality of Human Rights

Will there soon be a fifth regional human rights system? See generally Diane A. Desierto, ASEAN’s Constitutionalization of International Law: Challenges to Evolution Under the New ASEAN Charter, 49 C OLUM . J. T RANSNAT ’ L L. 268 (2011) (discussing the issues related to “ASEAN Law” and concluding that these issues could impede “Southeast Asia’s vast potential to contribute to the project of constitutionalizing international law”); Yuval Ginbar, Human Rights in ASEAN—Setting Sail or Treading Water?, 10 H UM . R TS . L. R EV . 504 (2010) (aiming to gain insight into the “promises, and perhaps risks” posed by ASEAN by “chart[ing] regional human rights developments in ASEAN and provid[ing] a brief overview of the key instruments adopted so far”); Yung- Ming Yen, The Formation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights: A Protracted Journey, 10 J. H UM . R TS . 393 (2011) (analyzing the evolution of ASEAN). “ASEAN” is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
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