Issues in Evolutionary Ethics

Edited by Paul Thompson

Subjects: Ethics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology
Paperback : 9780791420287, 444 pages, January 1995
Hardcover : 9780791420270, 444 pages, January 1995

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Table of contents



Part I. In the Wake of the Origin

Moral Sense
Charles Darwin

Ways of Judging Conduct
Herbert Spencer

Evolution and Ethics
Thomas H. Huxley

Part II. In the Wake of Sociobiology

The Morality of the Gene
Edward O. Wilson

The Law of the Jungle: Moral Alternatives and Principles of Evolution
J. L. Mackie

A Biological Interpretation of Moral Systems
R. D. Alexander

The Hypothalmic Imperative
P. Kitcher

Evolutionary Ethics: A Phoenix Arisen
M. Ruse

A Defense of Evolutionary Ethics
R. J. Richards

The Biological Roots of Morality
F. J. Ayala

Huxley's Evolution and Ethics in Sociobiological Perspective
George C. Williams

The Biological Justification of Ethics: A Best-Case Scenario
Alexander Rosenberg

Really Taking Darwin Seriously: An Alternative to Michael Ruse's Darwinian Metaethics
William A. Rottschaefer and David Martinsen

Evolutionary Naturlaism and the Objectivity of Morality
John Collier and Michael Stingl

General Bibliography

Notes on Contemporary Authors



This book explores historical and current discussions of the relevance of evolutionary theory to ethics. The historical section conveys the intellectual struggle that took place within the framework of Darwinism from its inception up to the work of G. C. Williams, W. D. Hamilton, R. D. Alexander, A. L. Trivers, E. O. Wilson, R. Dawkins, and others. The contemporary section discusses ethics within the framework of evolutionary theory as enriched by the works of biologists such as those mentioned above. The issue of whether ethical practice and ethical theory can be grounded in the theory of evolution has taken a new and significant direction within the context of sociobiology and is proving to be a challenge to previous thinking. This book conveys that challenge.

Paul Thompson is Professor of Philosophy in the University of Toronto, is Principal and of Scarborough College at the University of Toronto, and is the author of The Structure of Biological Theories published by SUNY Press