File Name: the expanding circle ethics evolution and moral progress .zip
Moral bioenhancement, nudge-designed environments, and ambient persuasive technologies may help people behave more consistently with their deeply held moral convictions. Or they may simply make it easier for them to make the morally right choice by helping them to overcome sources of weakness of will. This paper makes two assumptions.
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We are prepared to accept this explanation as far as it goes, but argue that it fails to explain how morality can become inclusivist in the fuller sense they intend. In fact, it even rules out inclusivism in their intended sense of moral progress, since they believe that human altruism and prosocial attitudes are essentially parochial. Quite the contrary, we think they are more open to such influence than they seem to do. According to this explanation, human beings have evolved a moral capacity that manifests itself in an inclusivist morality in suitable social, cultural and institutional conditions. It is a combined normative and scientific analysis of the nature and prospects of moral progress, informed by cutting edge evolutionary biology. Not only are we in wholesale agreement with the importance of their target—understanding moral progress—but also with their leading idea that conditions in the social environment can facilitate the development of inclusivist morality. This is a significant and comprehensive work and space precludes our discussing the numerous points of agreement.
Standard evolutionary explanations seem unable to account for inclusivist shifts that expand the circle of moral concern beyond strategically relevant cooperators. Recently, Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell have argued that this shows that that evolutionary conservatism — the view that our inherited psychology imposes significant feasibility constraints on how much inclusivist moral progress can be achieved — is unjustified. Secondly, they hold that inclusivist gains can be sustained, and exclusivist tendencies curbed, under certain favorable socio-economic conditions. I argue that Buchanan and Powell concede too much to the evolutionary conservative, because their second point shows that conservatives are right about the first: inclusivist shifts are unrealistic where it matters most, namely under harsh social, political and economic conditions. I suggest two promising strategies for solving this problem. One is to focus on different forms of moral progress to secure the same moral gains.
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Christoph Lumer is professor of moral philosophy at the Uni- versity of Siena Italy. His research interests include theories of justice, climate ethics, international and in- tergenerational justice. Oxford: Oxford U.
The Expanding Circle: Ethics and Sociobiology is a book by Peter Singer bridging the topics of sociobiology and ethics. The central tenet of the book is that over the course of human history, people have expanded the circle of beings whose interests they are willing to value similarly to their own. Originally that circle would have been self, family and tribe, but over time it grew to encompass all other humans. One reviewer noted that the book is "a remarkable and worthwhile synthesis of the neo-Kantian ethics of the Harvard moral philosopher John Rawls and the sociobiology of Harvard's E. Wilson ".
Many of our ebooks are available for purchase from these online vendors:. Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:. What is ethics? Where do moral standards come from? Are they based on emotions, reason, or some innate sense of right and wrong?
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