Evolutionary anthropology and the non-cognitive foundation of moral validity

Biology and Philosophy 8 (2):133-151 (1993)
This paper makes an attempt at the conceptual foundation of descriptive ethical theories in terms of evolutionary anthropology. It suggests, first, that what human social actors tend to accept to be morally valid and legitimate ultimately rests upon empirical authority relations and, second, that this acceptance follows an evolved pattern of hierarchical behaviour control in the social animal species. The analysis starts with a brief review of Thomas Hobbes'' moral philosophy, with special emphasis on Hobbes'' authoritarian view of moral validity and of the common political origins and ultimate basis of legitimacy of moral and legal systems. Hobbes'' philosophical conceptions are then put into the context of Max Weber''s influential empirical theory of legitimacy, especially charismatic revelation and authority as the ultimate source of all moral, legal and religious obligations. Weber''s concept of charismatic authority is given a biobehavioural interpretation in terms of ritualised status signals indicating an individual''s superior physical and emotional dispositions to control the social actions of others. Various conclusions are drawn concerning the concept of moral validity and its possible evolutionary interpretations
Keywords Ethical non-cognitivism  metaethics  ritualisation  dominance behaviour  charismatic authority
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DOI 10.1007/BF00850479
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References found in this work BETA
Edward O. Wilson (2000). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.

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Gebhard Geiger (1995). Why Are There No Objective Values? Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 26 (1):35-62.

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