No norms and no nature — the moral relevance of evolutionary biology

Biology and Philosophy 2 (3):253-270 (1987)
Abstract
Many think that evolutionary biology has relevance to ethics, but how far that relevance extends is a matter of debate. It is easy to show that pop sociobiological approaches to ethics all commit some type of naturalistic fallacy. More sophisticated attempts, like Donald Campbell's, or, more recently, Robert Richards', are not so easily refuted, but I will show that they too reason fallaciously from facts to values. What remains is the possibility of an evolutionary search for human nature. Unfortunately, evolutionary theory itself seems to imply that the quest for human nature will not be very promising. As far as there is such a thing as human nature, we will have to know it before we can meaningfully talk about its evolution. Anthropological data suggest that we differ widely in our normative judgments. And even where we seem to agree, there is good reason to doubt that we really do so.
Keywords Ethics  evolution  sociobiology
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References found in this work BETA
May M. Edel (1968). Anthropology and Ethics. Cleveland, Press of Case Western Reserve University.
Donna J. Haraway (1984). Primatology is Politics by Other Means. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:489 - 524.
David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.

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Citations of this work BETA
Bart Voorzanger (1994). Bioaltruism Reconsidered. Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):75-84.
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