The Temptations of Evolutionary Ethics

Opinion | Genetic modification goes beyond ethics
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The biggest contributor to the anarchist ethics is the Russian zoologist, geographer, economist, and political activist Peter Kropotkin. Starting from the premise that the goal of ethical philosophy should be to help humans adapt and thrive in evolutionary terms, Kropotkin's ethical framework uses biology and anthropology as a basis — in order to scientifically establish what will best enable a given social order to thrive biologically and socially — and advocates certain behavioural practices to enhance humanity's capacity for freedom and well-being, namely practices which emphasise solidarity, equality, and justice.

Prof. Michael Ruse - 'Evolutionary Ethics: A Phoenix Arisen?'

Kropotkin argues that ethics itself is evolutionary, and is inherited as a sort of a social instinct through cultural history, and by so, he rejects any religious and transcendental explanation of morality. The origin of ethical feeling in both animals and humans can be found, he claims, in the natural fact of "sociality" mutualistic symbiosis , which humans can then combine with the instinct for justice i.

This principle of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself, what is it but the very same principle as equality, the fundamental principle of anarchism? And how can any one manage to believe himself an anarchist unless he practices it? We do not wish to be ruled. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves wish to rule nobody? We do not wish to be deceived, we wish always to be told nothing but the truth. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves do not wish to deceive anybody, that we promise to always tell the truth, nothing but the truth, the whole truth?

We do not wish to have the fruits of our labor stolen from us. And by that very fact, do we not declare that we respect the fruits of others' labor? By what right indeed can we demand that we should be treated in one fashion, reserving it to ourselves to treat others in a fashion entirely different?

Our sense of equality revolts at such an idea. The 20th century saw a remarkable expansion and evolution of critical theory, following on earlier Marxist Theory efforts to locate individuals within larger structural frameworks of ideology and action. Antihumanists such as Louis Althusser , Michel Foucault and structuralists such as Roland Barthes challenged the possibilities of individual agency and the coherence of the notion of the 'individual' itself.

This was on the basis that personal identity was, in the most part, a social construction. As critical theory developed in the later 20th century, post-structuralism sought to problematize human relationships to knowledge and 'objective' reality. Post-structuralism and postmodernism argue that ethics must study the complex and relational conditions of actions. A simple alignment of ideas of right and particular acts is not possible. There will always be an ethical remainder that cannot be taken into account or often even recognized.

2. Kant’s Relationship to Hume and British Moral Philosophy

Evolutionary theory tells us about our biological past; can it also guide us to a moral future? Paul Farber's compelling book describes a century-old philosophical. 3. Evolutionary Ethics Herbert Spencer 8. Evolutionary Ethics Since Dodo, Phoenix, or Firebird? The Temptations of Evolutionary Ethics.

Such theorists find narrative or, following Nietzsche and Foucault, genealogy to be a helpful tool for understanding ethics because narrative is always about particular lived experiences in all their complexity rather than the assignment of an idea or norm to separate and individual actions. Zygmunt Bauman says postmodernity is best described as modernity without illusion, the illusion being the belief that humanity can be repaired by some ethic principle.

Postmodernity can be seen in this light as accepting the messy nature of humanity as unchangeable. David Couzens Hoy states that Emmanuel Levinas 's writings on the face of the Other and Derrida 's meditations on the relevance of death to ethics are signs of the "ethical turn" in Continental philosophy that occurred in the s and s. Hoy describes post-critique ethics as the "obligations that present themselves as necessarily to be fulfilled but are neither forced on one or are enforceable" , p. Hoy's post-critique model uses the term ethical resistance.

Examples of this would be an individual's resistance to consumerism in a retreat to a simpler but perhaps harder lifestyle, or an individual's resistance to a terminal illness.

Anticipating temptation may reduce unethical behavior, research finds

Hoy describes Levinas's account as "not the attempt to use power against itself, or to mobilize sectors of the population to exert their political power; the ethical resistance is instead the resistance of the powerless" , p. The ethical resistance of the powerless others to our capacity to exert power over them is therefore what imposes unenforceable obligations on us. The obligations are unenforceable precisely because of the other's lack of power. That actions are at once obligatory and at the same time unenforceable is what put them in the category of the ethical. Obligations that were enforced would, by the virtue of the force behind them, not be freely undertaken and would not be in the realm of the ethical.

Applied ethics is a discipline of philosophy that attempts to apply ethical theory to real-life situations. The discipline has many specialized fields, such as engineering ethics , bioethics , geoethics , public service ethics and business ethics. Applied ethics is used in some aspects of determining public policy, as well as by individuals facing difficult decisions. The sort of questions addressed by applied ethics include: "Is getting an abortion immoral? But not all questions studied in applied ethics concern public policy. For example, making ethical judgments regarding questions such as, "Is lying always wrong?

People, in general, are more comfortable with dichotomies two opposites. However, in ethics, the issues are most often multifaceted and the best-proposed actions address many different areas concurrently. In ethical decisions, the answer is almost never a "yes or no", "right or wrong" statement.

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His statements about the foundation of morality and its principles convey a commitment to some form of sentimentalism, however idiosyncratic. NHR In a new study, researchers At minimum, ethical intuitionism is the thesis that our intuitive awareness of value, or intuitive knowledge of evaluative facts, forms the foundation of our ethical knowledge. Phys Rev E While he correlated knowledge with virtue , he similarly equated virtue with joy. The aim here is not to summarize their views or compare them on all matters ethical.

Many buttons are pushed so that the overall condition is improved and not to the benefit of any particular faction. And it has not only been shown that people consider the character of the moral agent i. Bioethics is the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences , biotechnology , medicine , politics , law , and philosophy.

It also includes the study of the more commonplace questions of values "the ethics of the ordinary" that arise in primary care and other branches of medicine. Bioethics also needs to address emerging biotechnologies that affect basic biology and future humans. These developments include cloning , gene therapy , human genetic engineering , astroethics and life in space, [65] and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, RNA and proteins, e.

Business ethics also corporate ethics is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment, including fields like medical ethics. Business ethics represents the practices that any individual or group exhibits within an organization that can negatively or positively affect the businesses core values. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and entire organizations.

Business ethics has both normative and descriptive dimensions. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. Academics attempting to understand business behavior employ descriptive methods. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflect the interaction of profit-maximizing behavior with non-economic concerns. Interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the s and s, both within major corporations and within academia.

For example, today most major corporations promote their commitment to non-economic values under headings such as ethics codes and social responsibility charters. Adam Smith said, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. Ethics implicitly regulates areas and details of behavior that lie beyond governmental control. In Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong , Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen conclude that issues in machine ethics will likely drive advancement in understanding of human ethics by forcing us to address gaps in modern normative theory and by providing a platform for experimental investigation.

For example, machines, unlike humans, can support a wide selection of learning algorithms , and controversy has arisen over the relative ethical merits of these options. This may reopen classic debates of normative ethics framed in new highly technical terms.

Military ethics are concerned with questions regarding the application of force and the ethos of the soldier and are often understood as applied professional ethics. However individual countries and traditions have different fields of attention. Political ethics also known as political morality or public ethics is the practice of making moral judgements about political action and political agents. Public sector ethics is a set of principles that guide public officials in their service to their constituents, including their decision-making on behalf of their constituents.

Fundamental to the concept of public sector ethics is the notion that decisions and actions are based on what best serves the public's interests, as opposed to the official's personal interests including financial interests or self-serving political interests. Publication ethics is the set of principles that guide the writing and publishing process for all professional publications. To follow these principles, authors must verify that the publication does not contain plagiarism or publication bias.

Plagiarism is the failure to give credit to another author's work or ideas, when it is used in the publication. Publication bias occurs when the publication is one-sided or " prejudiced against results". If an author is prejudiced against certain results, than it can "lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn". Misconduct in research can occur when an experimenter falsifies results. When conducting medical research, it is important to honor the healthcare rights of a patient by protecting their anonymity in the publication.

This means that individuals should have control of their lives. Justice is the principle that decision-makers must focus on actions that are fair to those affected. Ethical decisions need to be consistent with the ethical theory. There are cases where the management has made decisions that seem to be unfair to the employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders Solomon, , pp Such decisions are unethical.

Relational ethics are related to an ethics of care.

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Researchers who employ relational ethics value and respect the connection between themselves and the people they study, and " Animal ethics is a term used in academia to describe human-animal relationships and how animals ought to be treated. The subject matter includes animal rights , animal welfare , animal law , speciesism , animal cognition , wildlife conservation , the moral status of nonhuman animals, the concept of nonhuman personhood , human exceptionalism , the history of animal use, and theories of justice.

Moral psychology is a field of study that began as an issue in philosophy and that is now properly considered part of the discipline of psychology. Some use the term "moral psychology" relatively narrowly to refer to the study of moral development. Some of the main topics of the field are moral responsibility , moral development, moral character especially as related to virtue ethics , altruism , psychological egoism , moral luck , and moral disagreement. Evolutionary ethics concerns approaches to ethics morality based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior.

Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology or sociobiology , with a focus on understanding and explaining observed ethical preferences and choices. Descriptive ethics is on the less philosophical end of the spectrum since it seeks to gather particular information about how people live and draw general conclusions based on observed patterns.

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Abstract and theoretical questions that are more clearly philosophical—such as, "Is ethical knowledge possible?