Evolutionary Intuitionism presents a new theory of morality. It is an evolutionary theory but differs from most other evolutionary theories. Most hold that morality is an adaptation but evolutionary intuitionism holds that it is the by-product of an adaptation that is inseparable from the adaptation. This means that, at the very least, the standard objections to evolutionary ethics do not automatically apply to my theory.
The endorsements on the back cover of the paperback version are by Michael Ruse of Florida State University, who refers to Evolutionary Intuitionism as "a new voice in the debate" and says that it "deserves to be widely read and discussed," and by John Bigelow of Monash University, who recommends it "to anyone who is puzzled about the place of morality in the material world."
For more information about evolutionary intuitionism, the theory, please go to the following pages, where it is outlined.
For more information about Evolutionary Intuitionism, the book, you can go to http://www.mqup.ca/evolutionary-intuitionism-products-9780773531116.php?page_id=73
Evolutionary intuitionism is unique in that it is the only theory that takes both morality and natural selection seriously.
Morally, it appears obvious that we should care for abandoned children instead of killing them or letting them starve. But doing so reduces the fitness of the carers in that they use resources that they could otherwise use to raise children of their own. People who are inclined to care for abandoned children ought to be eliminated from the population.
Proponents of adaptationist evolutionary ethics argue that caring for abandoned children is a mistake. If this is not merely a way of dismissing falsifying evidence, it is necessary to explain – in evolutionary terms – why people make the mistake when there would be selection for the elimination of the propensity to make the mistake. The implausibility of the various adaptationist explanations should incline us to the conclusion that it is merely a way of dismissing falsifying evidence.
The difficulty of explaining morality as an adaptation leads some theists to argue that morality is impossible without God. But you do not solve a crime by declaring that it was committed by someone with the desire and ability to commit it and neither do you explain morality merely by declaring that it is the creation of a supernatural being with the desire and ability to create it. Furthermore, unless God created us pre-loaded with morality, there would be no such thing as moral knowledge. We would have to be able to establish that the revelation of morality was given by a truth-telling being, and we could not establish that the revealing being was a truth-teller without independent evidence for the truth of all the moral claims purportedly revealed. Any theist who claims moral knowledge on the basis of revelation begs the question.
Natural law theorists are just as irrational as divine command theorists. They assume what biology denies, namely, that species have essences. They reach bizarre conclusions like the conclusion that gay people are intrinsically disordered. It is bizarre because, if human beings are essentially procreative, as they claim, what follows is that gay people are not human beings. Since they obviously are human beings, they are counter-examples that show that the theory is false. Natural law theorists do not notice the falsification because they equivocate, using one concept of human to categorize and another to condemn.
Almost all other ethicists proceed as though the fact that we are products of evolution by variation and natural selection can be ignored. If morality tells us to care for abandoned children and to do other sorts of acts that reduce our fitness, however, there will be natural selection for amorality. Those who do the right thing will be replaced by those who ignore moral constraints. We could not reach a stage at which most of us believe that we should help abandoned children or act accordingly. There is no reason to take seriously moral theories that do not explain how moral agents who adhere to them can develop and persist despite the corrosive power of natural selection. In the actual world, such theories are philosophical counterparts to Volapuk.
Adaptationists, theists, and non-evolutionary ethicists tend to share an impoverished view of the possibilities. They appear not to realize that, on a biological account, morality could be not an adaptation but the by-product of an adaptation to which it is inseparably linked. If morality were such a by-product, there would be selection for the elimination of moral agents but it would never result in their elimination because the benefits of the adaptation to which morality is inseparably linked would outweigh the costs of being moral. Caring for abandoned children would be the right thing to do, doing so would result in reduced fitness, but people inclined to care about the abandoned would not be eliminated because the costs of doing the morally right thing would be outweighed by the benefits of the adaptation to which morality is linked. This is the only available niche for theories that take both morality and biology seriously.
Evolutionary intuitionism is located in that niche. It is an evolutionary by-product theory of morality whose biological foundations cannot be adapted to support other moral theories. It is the only well-developed theory located in the niche.
Evolutionary intuitionism has a number of other interesting features. It is an empirically testable theory that does not reduce the normative to the non-normative. It meets Hume’s challenge and stands as a counter-example to the contention that there is an unbridgeable gap between fact and value. It explains why and when we should take our moral intuitions seriously but does not require us to rely on them. It does not ignore the issue of membership in the moral community, as so many theories do. It explains why the world looks as though cultural relavtivism is true. And the theist can adopt it as an account of how God pre-loaded us with morality.
Copyright Brian Zamulinski.