Kitcher’s Revolutionary Reasoning Inversion in Ethics

Analyse and Kritk 34 (1):117-128 (2012)
Abstract
This paper examines three specific issues raised by The Ethical Project. First, I discuss the varieties of altruism and spell out the differences between the definitions proposed by Kitcher and the ways altruism is usually conceived in biology, philosophy, psychology, and economics literature. Second, with the example of Kitcher’s account, I take a critical look at evolutionary stories of the emergence of human ethical practices. Third, I point to the revolutionary implications of the Darwinian methodology when it is thoughtfully applied to ethics.
Keywords evolutionary ethics  altruism  psychological altruism  motivation  metaethics
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2012-11-12
I am delighted that someone of Kitcher's ability has tackled the meta-ethical implications of understanding morality as an evolutionary adaptation. Further, Christine Clavien has advanced that good cause by providing an inspiringly insightful and clear review of important implications of his work. 

However, the science of the matter actually supports a much stronger hypothesis than Kitcher's "morality evolved to overcome altruism failures".That stronger hypothesis may have different meta-ethical implications.

Relevant criteria for scientific truth regarding morality as an evolutionary adaptation Include explanatory power for descriptive facts and puzzles, no contradiction with known facts, simplicity, and integration with the rest of science. By these criteria, a superior hypothesis can be stated as "morality overcomes a universal cooperation-exploitation dilemma by motivating or advocating altruistic cooperation strategies". That is, morality is composed of assemblies of biolog ... (read more)

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