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Morality’s Dark Past

Analyse & Kritik 34 (1):95-115 (2012)

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  1. Toolmaking and the Evolution of Normative Cognition.Jonathan Birch - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (1):1-26.
    We are all guided by thousands of norms, but how did our capacity for normative cognition evolve? I propose there is a deep but neglected link between normative cognition and practical skill. In modern humans, complex motor skills and craft skills, such as toolmaking, are guided by internally represented norms of correct performance. Moreover, it is plausible that core components of human normative cognition evolved as a solution to the distinctive problems of transmitting complex motor skills and craft skills, especially (...)
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  • Evolutionary Hypotheses and Moral Skepticism.Jessica Isserow - 2018 - Erkenntnis 84 (5):1025-1045.
    Proponents of evolutionary debunking arguments aim to show that certain genealogical explanations of our moral faculties, if true, undermine our claim to moral knowledge. Criticisms of these arguments generally take the debunker’s genealogical explanation for granted. The task of the anti-debunker is thought to be that of reconciling the truth of this hypothesis with moral knowledge. In this paper, I shift the critical focus instead to the debunker’s empirical hypothesis and argue that the skeptical strength of an evolutionary debunking argument (...)
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  • On Social Tolerance and the Evolution of Human Normative Guidance.Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx017.
    Discussions about the evolution of human social cognition usually portray the social environment of early hominins as highly hierarchical and violent. In this evolutionary narrative, our propensity for violence was overcome in our lineage by an increase in our intellectual capacities. However, I will argue in this article that we are at least equally justified in believing that our early hominin ancestors were less aggressive and hierarchical than is suggested in these models. This view is consistent with the available comparative (...)
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  • Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences.Gillian Barker, Eric Desjardins & Trevor Pearce (eds.) - 2014 - Springer.
    Despite the burgeoning interest in new and more complex accounts of the organism-environment dyad by biologists and philosophers, little attention has been paid in the resulting discussions to the history of these ideas and to their deployment in disciplines outside biology—especially in the social sciences. Even in biology and philosophy, there is a lack of detailed conceptual models of the organism-environment relationship. This volume is designed to fill these lacunae by providing the first multidisciplinary discussion of the topic of organism-environment (...)
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  • Cooperation in a Complex World: The Role of Proximate Factors in Ultimate Explanations. [REVIEW]Kim Sterelny - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):358-367.
    Mayr’s distinction between proximate and ultimate explanation is justly famous, marking out a division of explanatory labor in biology. But while it is a useful heuristic in many cases, there are others in which proximate factors play an important role in shaping evolutionary trajectories, and in such cases, each project is sensitive to, and relevant to, the other. This general methodological claim is developed in the context of a discussion of human cooperation, and in particular, in a discussion on the (...)
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  • On Our Moral Fate.Kim Sterelny - 2021 - Jus Cogens 3 (1):51-58.
    This commentary argues that the most central claim in Buchanan’s Our Moral Fate is right: there is a good deal of plasticity in our normative psychology. There is both direct historical and anthropological evidence of important normative diversity and good theoretical reason to expect diversity. So it is unlikely that more inclusive normative systems are humanly impossible. But this conclusion is reached in a somewhat different way: the commentary is much more critical than is Buchanan of his “standard model” of (...)
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  • The Arts and Human Nature: Evolutionary Aesthetics and the Evolutionary Status of Art Behaviours: Stephen Davies: The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012.Anton Killin - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):703-718.
    This essay reviews one of the most recent books in a trend of new publications proffering evolutionary theorising about aesthetics and the arts—themes within an increasing literature on aspects of human life and human nature in terms of evolutionary theory. Stephen Davies’ The Artful Species links some of our aesthetic sensibilities with our evolved human nature and critically surveys the interdisciplinary debate regarding the evolutionary status of the arts. Davies’ engaging and accessible writing succeeds in demonstrating the maturity and scope (...)
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  • Biological Markets, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Morality.Joeri Witteveen - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):401-430.
    Biological market theory has in recent years become an important part of the social evolutionist’s toolkit. This article discusses the explanatory potential and pitfalls of biological market theory in the context of big picture accounts of the evolution of human cooperation and morality. I begin by assessing an influential account that presents biological market dynamics as a key driver of the evolution of fairness norms in humans. I argue that this account is problematic for theoretical, empirical, and conceptual reasons. After (...)
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  • On Social Tolerance and the Evolution of Human Normative Guidance.Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):523-549.
    Discussions about the evolution of human social cognition usually portray the social environment of early hominins as highly hierarchical and violent. In this evolutionary narrative, our propensity for violence was overcome in our lineage by an increase in our intellectual capacities. However, I will argue in this article that we are at least equally justified in believing that our early hominin ancestors were less aggressive and hierarchical than is suggested in these models. This view is consistent with the available comparative (...)
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  • Sharing Our Normative Worlds: A Theory of Normative Thinking.Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera - 2017 - Dissertation, Australian National University
    This thesis focuses on the evolution of human social norm psychology. More precisely, I want to show how the emergence of our distinctive capacity to follow social norms and make social normative judgments is connected to the lineage explanation of our capacity to form shared intentions, and how such capacity is related to a diverse cluster of prototypical moral judgments. I argue that in explaining the evolution of this form of normative cognition we also require an understanding of the developmental (...)
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