This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Evolutionary Ethics And Biologically Supportable Morality

2983 words - 12 pages

Evolutionary Ethics and Biologically Supportable Morality

ABSTRACT: Consider the paradox of altruism: the existence of truly altruistic behaviors is difficult to reconcile with evolutionary theory if natural selection operates only on individuals, since in that case individuals should be unwilling to sacrifice their own fitness for the sake of others. Evolutionists have frequently turned to the hypothesis of group selection to explain the existence of altruism; but group selection cannot explain the evolution of morality, since morality is a one-group phenomenon and group selection is a many-group phenomenon. After spelling out just what the problem is, this paper discusses several ways ...view middle of the document...

An organism’s evolutionary telos, or goal, seems to be to promote its own fitness in order to survive long enough to reproduce. In situations where an organism confronts a choice between enhancing its own fitness and enhancing the fitness of others, it would seem to follow that the organism will (or "ought to," or should be expected to) choose to enhance its own fitness. (1)

The paradox arises because empirical facts seem to contradict this prediction of evolutionary theory. In a wide range of cases, and among organisms of differing levels of sentience and sapience, individual organisms frequently behave in ways that promote the fitness of some group (especially but not always a kin group) at the expense of their own individual fitness. This phenomenon, which Elliott Sober labels "evolutionary altruism," calls for reconciliation with evolutionary theory. (2) Although it might be a mistake to think that moral traits among humans is coextensive with their actions that would correctly be described as altruistic in an evolutionary sense, it is probably true that some morally required actions promote the fitness of other people at the expense of the fitness of the individual. (3) Hence the paradox of altruism appears to have implications for evolutionary ethics as well, even if the relationship between morality and altruism needs further elucidation. If some moral traits are altruistic in the evolutionary sense, then the evolutionary explanation of altruism will constitute a part of the explanation of morality.

Darwin’s own response to the paradox of altruism was to tweak evolutionary theory. He appears to have thought that it was a mistake to think that natural selection operates in every case on individuals; sometimes selection can operate on groups. (4) This conception of group selection" answers the paradox of altruism by explaining why altruistic behavior can promote an organism’s evolutionary telos. The selective advantage of the group over competing groups (which do not contain altruistic members) entails improved prospects of survival and reproduction for group members. (5) In this way, it can be shown that the evolution of altruistic behaviors is consistent with natural selection, provided that we reinterpret natural selection to allow group selection.

I wish to argue that something is amiss with the picture that is developing here: group selection cannot explain the evolution of morality, at least not universalistic morality. Morality is typically understood to involve elements that take into account just one group, namely the group of all moral beings, whereas group selection essentially involves many competing groups. At bottom, morality is a one-group phenomenon and group selection is a many-group phenomenon. After spelling out just what the problem is, I will offer several suggestions about how to overcome it.

Evolutionary Altruism

Sober distinguishes three concepts, which he calls ‘evolutionary altruism’, ‘psychological...

Other Essays Like Evolutionary Ethics And Biologically Supportable Morality

Ethics Essay

565 words - 3 pages Ethics Essay Stephanie Vejar ETH 316 June 18, 2012 Glenn DeAtley Ethics Essay Ethics Ethical development is an important tool needed in today’s society. In this paper, the topic will discuss the similarities and differences between virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. In addition this papers topic will address how each theory addresses ethics and morality in relation to the authors’ personal experiences with virtue

Business Ethics Today Essay

646 words - 3 pages the same as religion. Ethics in of itself, addresses questions of ourselves and morality, this encompasses the concept of doing good, bad, right, and wrong. That is to say that being ethical is not the same as doing "whatever society accepts." In any society, most people accept standards that are, in fact, ethical. But standards of behavior in society can deviate from what is ethical. Moreover, if being ethical were doing "whatever

Naturalism, Realism and the Existence of God

863 words - 4 pages way of thinking. B.F. Skinner, a Harvard professor also known as the father of behaviorism disagrees with naturalism because he feels human dignity and freedom play a big part in what happens in nature. He says that, in naturalism, “we are explained purely in terms of biochemical or neurochemical reactions which follow the prescribed laws of nature. We are determined biologically and environmentally.” In a sense, with naturalism, everything is

Audience Analysis

584 words - 3 pages same prosecutor, however, would likely find it reprehensible to fail to tell a friend if her date had a potentially dangerous or suspect history. Another area in which ethics and morals can clash is at the workplace where company ethics can play against personal morality. Corporate greed that blurs its own ethical lines coupled with unreasonable demands on time can lead to having to choose between a stressful, demanding and consuming work ethic

Ethics and Morals Paper

854 words - 4 pages a broader level than ethics. According to Shaw and Barry, “Business ethics are mainly concerned with morality in the narrow sense.” Etiquette can have an interaction with morality depending upon the situation. Ethics is refers to a philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness a badness of the motives and ends of such actions (Gale, par 1

Importance of Ethics for the Overall Success of an Undergraduate Student

555 words - 3 pages event but could create many problems. According to (apa.org, 2014) punctuality, time management, morality, integrity are some of the ethical factors which will be discussed below. In the case of undergraduate students adhere to ethics could be benefited in many ways and it is for his or her present and future both. Starting from being punctual, for an example if someone get late for his/her lectures when he/her enter the classroom

Outline and Evaluate One or More Evolutionary Explanations for the Functions of Sleep. (24)

870 words - 4 pages exceptions * Rabbits who have high danger rating slept as much as moles who had a low danger rating * Goes against the Predator and Prey status * As it implies sleep may not be evolutionary but actually biologically essential * Thus showing it could be nature rather than nurture P4: * In addition, Meddis 1995 tried to explain the evo. Function of sleep * Proposed the ’Waste of time’ hypothesis * Saying sleep serves the

Ethics/316 Week One Individual Assignment

558 words - 3 pages There are three significant approaches in normative ethics such as quality ethics, deontological ethics, and utilitarianism. This paper is going to evaluate the resemblances and variations between quality concept, utilitarianism, and deontological principles. It will include information of the variations in how each concept details ethics and morality and it will also talk about an experience to describe the relationship between quality

Business Ethics

997 words - 4 pages facilitate the positive image of the organization and builds organizationally strong bonds amongst business associates. The term business ethics have evolved overtime with the term becoming more prevalent as individual moral issues come into play. “In this broad sense ethics in business is simply the application of everyday moral or ethical norms to business” (www.scu.edu/ethics). Issues in morality have become prevalent over the past few

Selfless Gene

1017 words - 5 pages other peoples life? If we apply the same principle as the simians it would depend. Morality is a subjective quality; individuals beyond any doubt have solid convictions about what's good and bad. However, despite the fact that ethics can change from individual to individual and society to culture, if presented with the same situation in which we need to keep our offspring’s safe, our perspective would see a shift and altruism might set in

Ethic and Marality

758 words - 4 pages them self "am I doing the right thing?" Ethics is what a person does when no one is watching. Whether it is a business or a government entity, they all expect their employees to behave ethically. Morality is defined as a system or code that we humans use to differentiate between right and wrong. This structure could be consequential from a number of factors: religion, culture, and upbringing (Merriam-Webter, 1981). It is easier said than done to

Related Papers

Machiavelli And The Ethics Of Morality And Politics

1553 words - 7 pages through his political treatise, but every ruler, at any time. Just as Columbus and others during his time were discovering new existences, Machiavelli invited the politically intelligent of his day to rediscover Republican Rome. Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince argued that morality and politics cannot co-exist in the same forum. However, when investigating Machiavelli's ideas and philosophies, it can be concluded that perhaps the evil and violence

Biblical World View Essay

649 words - 3 pages comprehensive nonreligious life stance that incorporates a naturalistic philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system. Secular Humanistic beliefs regarding origin, identity, meaning/purpose, morality and destiny are as follows. The Secular Humanist believes in the Evolutionary Theory. They believe that the universe already existed, that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a

Evolution And Philosophy Have A Relationship As Old As The Idea Of Evolution Itself

261 words - 2 pages science itself, that evolution fails to meet the standards of true science, views that also were expressed at the time of Darwin and earlier. If we are to understand these criticisms, we must understand the philosophy of science in some detail.Many other topics of philosophical debate have been raised, and they are briefly reviewed: reductionism, progress and directionalism, teleology, naturalism, and evolutionary ethics. Not all of them are

Eth 316 Week 1 Essay

668 words - 3 pages virtue theory, utilitarianism, and deontological ethics. Also addressing how each theory deals with ethics and morality. In addition, I will reflect on my personal experience through which I will expound on the association between virtue, values, and moral concepts as they relate to one specific of the three theories. A description of the differences in how each theory addresses ethics and morality is as followed. Virtue theory is different to the