Evolutionary Intuitionism

Evolutionary Intuitionism: A Theory of the Origin and Nature of Moral Facts

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Evolutionary Intuitionism
    Book Description:

    Evolutionary Intuitionism presents a new evolutionary theory of human morality. Zamulinski explains the evolution of foundational attitudes, whose relationships to acts constitute moral facts. With foundational attitudes and the resulting moral facts in place, he shows how they ground a plausible normative morality, give answers to meta-ethical questions, and provide an account of moral motivation. He explains the nature of moral intuitions and, thus, of our access to the moral facts. He shows that the theory makes confirmed empirical predictions, including the observable variation in moral views. The combination of intuitionism and evolutionary ethics enables Zamulinski to overcome the standard objections to both.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6025-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    My investigation of human morality was motivated by dissatisfaction with the theories presented to me when I was a student, not with the wonder that, in the traditional picture, motivates philosophers. I simply did not think that the theories explained their subject convincingly: they did not answer all the questions that I wanted answered in a way that satisfied me. I was therefore led, eventually, to conduct my own explorations. This is my report of those explorations. It is the presentation of a theory I call “evolutionary intuitionism” because it is evolutionary and because it has all the features of...

  5. 1 Rejecting Adaptationism in Ethics
    (pp. 3-23)

    Common usage of the label “evolutionary ethics” obscures the fact that there are two fundamentally and radically different possible types: adaptationist theories and by-product theories. Quite a lot of work has been done on the first type; little on the second. What people usually think of as evolutionary ethics isadaptationistevolutionary ethics. But this book is about a by-product theory that I call “evolutionary intuitionism” because it is ethical intuitionism with an evolutionary foundation. In order to clear the way for it and to avoid being associated with the sort of evolutionary ethics that many philosophers regard as disreputable,...

  6. 2 The Design of Intuitionistic Organisms
    (pp. 24-46)

    Moral agents, a moral community, and objective moral facts can come into existence in a possible world that is initially devoid of them and in which human beings are biological organisms and products of evolution by variation and natural selection. The transformation makes a form of ethical intuitionism true. By ethical intuitionism, I mean the meta-ethical position that includes the following claims.¹ First, moral realism is true. In other words, there are moral facts. A moral fact is a fact that would make true a moral judgment such as “It is wrong to torture the innocent.” Second, objectivism is true....

  7. 3 The Evolution of Intuitionistic Organisms
    (pp. 47-71)

    When a new adaptation comes into existence, the relations between an organism and its environment change. The organism has new capacities and, perhaps, new vulnerabilities. Given the requisite variation, the new adaptation can be supplemented by yet more adaptations that further increase the fitness of the organism or by compensating adaptations that reduce the vulnerabilities connected with it. There was, I believe, an evolutionary dialectic leading through a number of transitional forms to moral agents with moral intuitions. I am going to describe a course the dialectic might have taken. The account is not a “just-so” story, however. It enables...

  8. 4 The Moral Facts According to Evolutionary Intuitionism
    (pp. 72-89)

    If evolutionary intuitionism is true, to act in a morally acceptable way is to act consistently with desire-dependent extended foundational attitudes. By determining what is consistent with them, we can determine what is morally permissible. Moreover, as I shall argue in chapter 6, our intuitions must correspond to the moral facts when we possess all relevant true beliefs and no relevant false beliefs because the moral facts are part of the causal explanation for our intuitions. If the facts and our intuitions were profoundly at variance, evolutionary intuitionism would be falsified. Hence, determining whether the theory gives us intuitively acceptable...

  9. 5 Motivation, Evasion, and Variation
    (pp. 90-107)

    The moral facts hypothesized by evolutionary intuitionism are obviously not the only factors influencing either our moral beliefs or our moral behaviour. Not all moral beliefs correspond to the hypothesized moral facts. People all too often do what is wrong if the facts are as evolutionary intuitionism describes them. On the other hand, the moral facts do have an influence. The problem is to distinguish the moral signals from the background noise. The aim of this chapter is to show that this can be done and that we can expect the background noise to be there.

    Foundational attitudes are constituents...

  10. 6 The Meta-Ethics of Evolutionary Intuitionism
    (pp. 108-125)

    Evolutionary intuitionism identifies as moral facts various relations between acts and desire-dependent extended foundational attitudes. In this chapter, I will show that there are uncontroversial facts of the same sort. In other words, I will “domesticate” the hypothesized moral facts by showing that I am not introducing a novel kind of thing for the sake of the theory. After that, I will argue that the is/ought gap is irrelevant to evolutionary intuitionism. It exists, but it is unnecessary to cross it. Like other stock objections to adaptationist evolutionary ethics, the objection that evolutionary ethics involves deriving prescriptions from descriptions is...

  11. 7 Evaluating Evolutionary Intuitionism
    (pp. 126-136)

    Evolutionary intuitionism is a theory about the foundations of human morality. If the arguments in the first chapter of this book are sound, it is the right kind of theory. The theory provides a testable evolutionary account of the origin of moral facts without explaining morality away. There are, literally, moral facts about what is permissible, what is obligatory, and what is forbidden. We do not just believe that there are: there is real moral normativity in the world, which derives from the normative concepts that are constituents of the contents of our foundational attitudes. The moral facts are neither...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 137-144)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 145-162)
  14. Index
    (pp. 163-166)