Re: new to list

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Sat Aug 25 2001 - 17:41:59 MDT

Mike said

>The problem is that science (specifically sociobiology) continues to
>prove these theorists wrong.

I *think* Mike meant theorists who deny that there are objective moral
properties. Sociobiology does no such thing. At the most, it shows that
there is a "human nature" in the sense that there is a tendency for
different kinds of human beings (eg sexes, ages) to act in certain ways in
certain environments, and that these tendencies are genetically hard-wired
into us by the experience of our ancestors in the evolutionary environments.
That is an interesting datum, but it goes nowhere near to establishing the
existence of objective moral properties. Indeed, there are respectable
arguments that it actually reinforces subjectivist theories of ethics: moral
rules are just subjective to our evolutionary coding.

Mike would also be familiar the idea that we have an incentive to *change*
our inherited evolutionary coding because it gives us dispositions that may
have increased our inclusive fitness in the evolutionary environment but are
arguably detrimental to our well-being in modern, high-technology
environments. Evolution, of course, does not care about an organism's
well-being but only about its inclusive fitness.

Peter Singer has a very good book on the relationship between
sociobiological claims and ethics. IIRC correctly its title is something
like _The Expanding Circle_. He's come back to this issue a lot in his
recent work.


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