Evolutionary naturalistic justifications of morality: A matter of faith and works [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 6 (3):341-349 (1991)
Robert Richards has presented a detailed defense of evolutionary ethics, a revised version of Darwin's views and a major modification of E. O. Wilson's. He contends that humans have evolved to seek the community welfare by acting altruistically. And since the community welfare is the highest moral good, humans ought to act altruistically. Richards asks us to take his empirical premises on faith and aims to show how they can justify an ethical conclusion. He identifies two necessary conditions for a naturalistic justification of morality (NJ): its premises (1) must be empirical and (2) concerned with morally relevant causal factors. I argue that these two conditions are insufficient. An NJ must also appeal to teleogical or teleonomic laws which identify proper effects and reliable causes of these effects. So I supplement biological faith with an NJ that I believe has a better chance of working since faith without works is dead.
Keywords Altruism  evolutionary ethics  naturalistic justification
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DOI 10.1007/BF00132236
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Robert Richards (1986). A Defense of Evolutionary Ethics. Biology and Philosophy 1 (3):265-293.

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