Evolution of Morality

ISBN-10: 0262600722
ISBN-13: 9780262600729
Edition: 2007
Authors: Richard Joyce
List price: $25.00
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Description: Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more  More...

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Book details

List price: $25.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 8/24/2007
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking--staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms--if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies"--might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject. Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Moralityis one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Moralitylays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality.

Richard Joyce is Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington and author of The Evolution of Morality (MIT Press, 2006).

Acknowledgements
Introduction: Human Nature
The Natural Selection of Helping
The Nature of Morality
Moral Language and Moral Emotions
The Moral Sense
The Evolutionary Vindication of Morality
The Evolutionary Debunking of Morality
Conclusion: Living with an Adapted Mind
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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