David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 7 (2):189-202 (1992)
Charles J. Lumsden and E.O. Wilson, in their writings together and individually, have proposed that human behaviors, whether moral or nonmoral, are governed by innate constraints (which they have termed epigenetic rules). I propose that if a genetic component of moral behavior is to be discovered, some sorting out of specifically moral from nonmoral innate constraints will be necessary. That some specifically moral innate constraits exist is evidenced by virtuous behaviors exhibited in nonhuman mammals, whose behavior is usually granted to be importantly governed by genetic factors. Propensities for such virtuous behaviors may have been passed to humans as highly conserved mammalian genes and continue to influence us. I propose that these constitute at least a rudimentary morality and may account in part for the moral intuitions. But other innate constraints which are nonmoral in nature interact with the specifically moral innate constraints and with culture to yield human moral decisions and actions. Any model which aims to identify the genetic component of moral behaviors or behaviors with moral import must provide not only a delineation of cultural causes but must also distinguish between those genetic causes which may have their origin in innate moral constraints from others which are fundamentally nonmoral because the critical faculty necessary to higher level human morality itself arises in part from innate constraints of a nonmoral type; i.e., the processes of inductive reasoning common to both ethics and science. Finally, humans who could bring the nonmoral evaluative capacities to bear upon whatever moral intuitions might be genetically conserved in mammalian heritage would have an advantage over similar beings who could not.
|Keywords||Epigenetic rule ethics human behavioral ecology innate constraint morality sociobiology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Tom Regan (2009). The Case for Animal Rights. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press 425-434.
Philip Kitcher (1989). Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature. Journal of Philosophy 86 (7):385-391.
Edward O. Wilson, Arthur L. Caplan, Daniel G. Freedman & Michael Ruse (1982). On Human Nature. Ethics 92 (2):327-340.
Edward O. Wilson (2000). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.
Peter Singer (ed.) (1990). Animal Liberation. Avon Books.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Shaun Nichols (2005). Innateness and Moral Psychology. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York 353--369.
Janet M. Dukerich, Mary J. Waller, Elizabeth George & George P. Huber (2000). Moral Intensity and Managerial Problem Solving. Journal of Business Ethics 24 (1):29 - 38.
Fiery Cushman & Liane Young (2011). Patterns of Moral Judgment Derive From Nonmoral Psychological Representations. Cognitive Science 35 (6):1052-1075.
Susan Dwyer, How not to argue that morality isn't innate: Comments on Jesse Prinz's “is morality innate?”.
Kenton Machina (2007). Moral Responsibility—What is All the Fuss About? Acta Analytica 22 (1):29-47.
John Tooby, Leda Cosmides & H. Clark Barrett (2005). Resolving the Debate on Innate Ideas: Learnability Constraints and the Evolved Interpenetration of Motivational and Conceptual Functions. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York 305--337.
Todd Bernard Weber (2000). Tragic Dilemmas and the Priority of the Moral. Journal of Ethics 4 (3):191-209.
Iain Morrisson (2007). Moral and Nonmoral Freedom in Kant. Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):129-148.
Liangkang Ni (2009). Moral Instinct and Moral Judgment. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (2):238-250.
Douglas W. Portmore (2008). Are Moral Reasons Morally Overriding? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):369 - 388.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #228,010 of 1,725,561 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #211,098 of 1,725,561 )
How can I increase my downloads?