In Thomas Heams (ed.), Handbook of Evolutionary Biology (provis. Title). Springer (forthcoming)
|Abstract||Evolutionary ethics (EE) is a branch of philosophy that arouses both fascination and deep suspicion. It claims that Darwinian mechanisms and evolutionary data on animal sociality are relevant to ethical reflection. This field of study is often misunderstood and rarely fails to conjure up images of Social Darwinism as a vector for nasty ideologies and policies. However, it is worth resisting the temptation to reduce EE to Social Darwinism and developing an objective analysis of whether it is appropriate to adopt an evolutionary approach in ethics. The purpose of this article is to ‘dedemonise’ EE while exploring its limits. I shall begin by presenting two ways of integrating a Darwinian way of thinking into the context of social and political sciences : Social Darwinism and what one could label ‘Pro-social Darwinism’. Next I will point out some of the fundamental errors on which Social Darwinism is grounded; this will help in understanding why contemporary evolutionary ethicists cannot possibly hold the views defended by this theory (unless they are inclined to intellectual dishonesty). On the contrary, EE seems more akin to a Pro-social Darwinian approach, except for the fact that it restricts its reflections to theoretical ethics. The second part of the paper (sections 3 to 7) provides a clear and detailed picture of EE as well as an analysis of its relevance at the different levels of ethics (descriptive, meta-, normative and practical). Special focus will be given to questions relating to the genesis of morals and the delicate shift from facts to norms.|
|Keywords||evolutionary ethics social darwinism|
|External links||This entry has no external links. Add one.|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Peter T. Saunders (2003). Bricks Without Straw: Darwinism in the Social Sciences. Theoria 18 (3):259-272.
Michael Ruse (2010). The Biological Sciences Can Act as a Ground for Ethics. In Francisco José Ayala & Robert Arp (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology. Wiley-Blackwell Pub..
Richard R. Nelson (2007). Universal Darwinism and Evolutionary Social Science. Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):73-94.
J. W. Stoelhorst (2008). The Explanatory Logic and Ontological Commitments of Generalized Darwinism. Journal of Economic Methodology 15 (4):343-363.
Janet Radcliffe Richards (2000). Human Nature After Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction. Routledge.
Osamu Sakura (1998). Similarities and Varieties: A Brief Sketch on the Reception of Darwinism and Sociobiology in Japan. Biology and Philosophy 13 (3).
Matthew Braddock (2009). Evolutionary Psychology's Moral Implications. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):531-540.
James Lennox, Darwinism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Lucas McGranahan (2011). William James's Social Evolutionism in Focus. The Pluralist 6 (3).
Philip Kitcher (2004). Evolutionary Theory and the Social Uses of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 19 (1):1-15.
Noah Porter (1967). Darwinism and Social Ethics: The Elements of Moral Science. In Raymond Jackson Wilson (ed.), Darwinism and the American Intellectual. Homewood, Ill.,Dorsey Press.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, Marcus W. Feldman & Jeremy Kendal (forthcoming). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science.
N. Laland Kevin, Marcus John Odling-Smee & Jeremy Kendal W. Feldman (2009). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science 14 (3).
Added to index2011-12-16
Total downloads26 ( #48,417 of 556,807 )
Recent downloads (6 months)23 ( #2,778 of 556,807 )
How can I increase my downloads?