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

Biology and Philosophy 2 (3):253-270 (1987)
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00128832
 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: 24,488
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
David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

17 ( #268,324 of 1,925,792 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #308,701 of 1,925,792 )

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.