Gibbard's evolutionary theory of rationality and its ethical implications

Biology and Philosophy 10 (2):129-180 (1995)
Gibbard''s theory of rationality is evolutionary in terms of its result as well as its underpinning argument. The result is that judgments about what is rational are analyzed as being similar to judgments of morality — in view of what Darwin suggests concerning the latter. According to the Darwinian theory, moral judgments are based on sentiments which evolve to promote the survival and welfare of human societies. On Gibbard''s theory, rationality judgments should be similarly regarded as expressing emotional attachments to behavioral norms which originate and function to coordinate social interaction. Consequently, Gibbard''s theory of rationality might be used to illuminate Darwin''s theory of morality, and vice versa. Additionally, as argued in the present essay, both can be further elaborated, and defended, by developing related themes in philosophical ethics: viz., connected with Hume and 20th-century emotivists. The main problem is that this general Darwinian approach faces widespread opposition nowadays, not only in ethics but in philosophy of science. The purpose of this essay is to analyze Gibbard''s theory, critically and constructively, with emphasis on the pertinent commonalities in Darwin, Hume and the emotivists, while also critically addressing their common enemies. The pervasive methodological orientation is to relate this analysis to (philosophy of) science in general, and biological science in particular.
Keywords Evolution  explanation  morality  rationality  normative communication  fact/value distinction  utilitarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00852243
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,661
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
J. Rawls (1995). Political Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
W. V. Quine (1992). Pursuit of Truth. Harvard University Press.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

34 ( #95,542 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #99,332 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.