The Secret Chain

Evolution and Ethics

By Michael Bradie

Subjects: Philosophy And Biology
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology
Paperback : 9780791421062, 216 pages, December 1994
Hardcover : 9780791421055, 216 pages, December 1994

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Table of contents




1  Ethics and Evolution

The Secret Chain

Epistemology from an Evolutionary Point of View

Ethics from an Evolutionary Point of View

Morals and Models

Evolution and Ethics

2  Altruism, Benevolence, and Self-Love in Eighteenth Century British Moral Philosophy


Benevolence and Self-Love from Hobbes to Mackintosh

The Eighteenth Century Legacy

3  The Moral Realm of Nature: Nineteenth Century Views on Ethics and Evolution


Natural Facts and Natural Values

Nature, Culture, and Conflict

4  Human Nature


The Concept of Human Nature

Human Nature and Moral Theory

Human Nature and Ideology

Does Darwinism Undermine the Concept of Human Nature?

5  Three Contemporary Approaches to Evolutionary Ethics


The Wisdom of the Genes: The Sociobiology of Ethics

Richard Alexander and the Biological Basis of Morality

Robert Richards and the Revised Theory

General Conclusion

6  Darwinism and the Moral Status of Animals


Singer's Expanding Circle Argument

James Rachels on "Moral Individualism"

Rodd on the Rights of Animals and Our Duties Toward Them


7  Final Reflections

Summary of the Argument

The Biological Roots of Morality

The Relevance of Darwin for Moral Philosophy



Michael Bradie is Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University.


"Bradie's is the first book to specifically focus upon the relationship between evolutionary ethics and evolutionary epistemology. The literature is filled with controversy largely due to scholars pulling from both traditions without careful regard for their differences and presuppositions. Bradie uses his analytic philosophical training to clarify the positions of virtually every scholar, from the eighteenth century to the present time, who has had something important to say about the relationship between evolution and ethics. As if this superb philosophical reconstruction were not enough, Bradie also develops a position of his own that will surely attract as much attention as the works of Michael Ruse, Robert Richards, R. D. Alexander, E. O. Wilson, and Peter Singer. Bradie's reconstructive analysis and original thesis will make a valuable contribution to the field. " — David Edward Shaner, Furman University

"This book will make an excellent addition to the growing philosophical literature that deals with foundational issues of ethics from a scientific perspective. The author is both self-critical and has a critical awareness of the many pitfalls that confront workers in this field. His book is a very useful, analytical and critical discussion of a wide range of literature on the relation between evolution and ethics. " — Alan Gewirth, University of Chicago