Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (1):55-73 (2017)

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Abstract
Moral progress may be a matter of time scale. If intuitive measures of moral progress like the degree of physical violence within a society are taken as empirical markers, then most human societies have experienced moral progress in the last few centuries. However, if the development of the human species is taken as relevant time scale, there is evidence that humanity has experienced a global moral decline compared to a small-band hunter-gatherer baseline that represents a lifestyle presumed to largely account for 99% of human history. A counter-argument to such a diagnosis of moral decline is the fact that the living conditions of the modern world that emerged since sedentariness and the beginning of agriculture are completely different compared to those of SBHG due to cultural and technological developments. We therefore suggest that two notions of moral progress should be distinguished: a “biological notion” referring to the inherited capacities typical of the evolutionary niche of mammals and that unfold in a specific way in the human species; and a “cultural notion” that relates moral progress to dealing with an increasing diversity of temptations and possible wrongdoings in a human social world whose complexity accumulates in time. In our contribution, we describe these two different notions of moral progress, we discuss how they interact, how this interaction impacts the standards by which we measure moral progress, and we provide suggestions and justifications for re-aligning biological and cultural moral progress.
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-016-9773-y
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References found in this work BETA

The "Survival of the Fittest" and the Origins of Social Darwinism.Gregory Claeys - 2000 - Journal of the History of Ideas 61 (2):223-240.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.Jared Diamond - 2007 - Environmental Values 16 (1):133-135.

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Citations of this work BETA

Ecocentrism: Resetting Baselines for Virtue Development.Darcia Narvaez - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (2):391-406.
Moral Education in a Time of Human Ecological Devastation.Darcia Narvaez - 2021 - Journal of Moral Education 50 (1):55-67.

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