Evolutionary Ethics

Edited by Matthew H. Nitecki & Doris V. Nitecki

Subjects: Ethics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology
Paperback : 9780791415009, 384 pages, July 1993
Hardcover : 9780791414996, 384 pages, August 1993

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Table of contents




Problematic Worldviews of Evolutionary Ethics

Matthew H. Nitecki

Ethics and the Cosmic Order

Evolution and Ethics

Thomas H. Huxley

Ethics and the Struggle for Existence

Leslie Stephen

Evolution and Ethics

John Dewey

Philosophical Advocacy

Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Evolutionary Ethics

Robert J. Richards

The New Evolutionary

Ethics Michael Ruse

Biological Considerations in the Analysis of Morality

Richard D. Alexander

Philosophical Skepticism

Evolutionary Altruism, Psychological Egoism, and Morality: Disentangling the Phenotypes

Elliott Sober

Mother Nature is a Wicked Old Witch

George C. Williams

Can Beings Whose Ethics Evolved Be Ethical Beings?

Patricia A. Williams

Biosocial Debate

The Moral Career of Vertebrate Values

Andrzej Elzanowski

The Chimpanzee's Mind: How Noble in Reason? How Absent of Ethics?

Daniel J. Povinelli and Laurie R. Godfrey

Evolutionary Origin of Moral Principles

Adam Urbanek

The Complex of Questions Relating Evolution to Ethics

Lawrence Slobodkin

The Kinds of "Individuals" One Finds in Evolutionary Biology

Evelyn Fox Keller and Margaret S. Ewing

Purpose, Gender and Evolution

Mary Catherine Bateson


This volume analyzes the biological and philosophical disagreements in evolutionary ethics and points out difficulties with the interpretations.

The book is divided into four sections. The first is an historical introduction to the origin of evolutionary ethics, showing how different evolutionary ethics was a hundred years ago, and how distant Huxley is from most of us now. The second section argues for a sociobiological interpretation of evolutionary ethics. The third section presents the view opposite to that of the second section and rejects the sociobiological interpretation. The fourth section deals objectively with many complex and fundamental issues from diverse perspectives.

Matthew H. Nitecki is Curator and Doris V. Nitecki is Associate in the Department of Geology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. They are the editors of History and Evolution, also published by SUNY Press.


"The authors have a wondrous capacity to recognize problems, to communicate ideas, and to do so with obvious enthusiasm and refined style. In today's jargon, this is a 'good read. ' Reader interest is sustained by essays which tease the intellect and by logical argument that coaxes even the most narrowly-read, basic scientist to think about the broader problem. " — David J. Simmons, University of Texas Medical Branch

"With today's general interest in ethics, I think this is timely and important. There are few topics that are as significant as human morality and its basis.

"One of the main strengths here is a balance of traditional thinking and modern insights. There is a real value in 'updating' the work of major scholars from the past and contrasting this with today's thinking. " — Barrie Dale, University of Oslo