Evolution and Moral Ecology

‘Moral ecology’ is a new term that I have adopted to describe the thrust of my thesis (thanks to John Wilkins for a fruitful conversation at PBDB4 leading to the coining of this term). Basically, I’m claiming that: If we have an evolved moral sense – and I think there’s Read more…

The Meaning of Life

There are lots of ways to answer the question, ‘what is the meaning of life’, but I’ll cut to the chase: there isn’t one. At least, that’s if you take the question from the perspective of ‘what life means’. Unsurprisingly, I found the answer to that not in a philosophy Read more…

The Return of Eugenics

Eugenics has a bad rap. All that talk of selective breeding (or sterilising) of people in order to improve the human stock or purify races is terribly distasteful today – and for good reason. However, I wonder if we’re already bringing a kind of eugenics back with modern day genetic Read more…

The Problem of Cardinal Values

‘Cardinal values’ are those values that are fundamental to rest of your moral system, the values from which all other values spring. They’re like axiomatic values, the very ground floor of morality.

Some contemporary moral philosophies state their cardinal values as happiness (hedonism), compassion (Buddhism), altruism (many), the Golden Rule, respect for autonomous rational agents or duty (Kant) – although many moral philosophies simply skip over the question of cardinal values and claim that promoting goodness is good enough (I suspect Rawls suffers from this somewhat tautological approach).

What I’m concerned about is what cardinal values spring from an evolutionary ethics point of view. For evolutionary ethics causes us to question many of the other cardinal values. Let’s take happiness as an example. If happiness truly was a cardinal value, it should be irreducible to other values.


Children Are Evil

I happen to believe that morality is largely innate – not the norms to which we subscribe, but the capacity for moral thinking and the ability to feel moral emotions such as empathy. As such, why would children require so much moral guidance? Here’s why: