Darwinian ethics and error

Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):713-732 (2000)
Suppose that the human tendency to think of certain actions andomissions as morally required – a notion that surely lies at the heart of moral discourse – is a trait that has been naturallyselected for. Many have thought that from this premise we canjustify or vindicate moral concepts. I argue that this is mistaken, and defend Michael Ruse''s view that the moreplausible implication is an error theory – the idea thatmorality is an illusion foisted upon us by evolution. Thenaturalistic fallacy is a red herring in this debate,since there is really nothing that counts as a fallacy at all. If morality is an illusion, it appears to followthat we should, upon discovering this, abolish moraldiscourse on pain of irrationality. I argue that thisconclusion is too hasty, and that we may be able usefullyto employ a moral discourse, warts and all, withoutbelieving in it.
Keywords Darwin  error theory  ethics  evolution  evolutionary ethics  Mackie  naturalistic fallacy  Ruse
Categories (categorize this paper)
 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: 12,374
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

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

29 ( #65,832 of 1,139,993 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #64,318 of 1,139,993 )

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.