Introduction. The Evolutionary Approach to Ethics: From Animal Prosociality to Human Morality

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Evolutionary research on the biological fitness of groups has recently given a prominent value to the role that prosocial behaviors play in favoring a successful adaptation to ecological niches. Such a focus marks a paradigm shift. Early views of evolution relied on the notion of natural selection as a largely competitive mechanism for the achievement of the highest amount of resources. Today, evolutionists from different schools think that collaborative attitudes are an irremovable ingredient of biological change over time. As a consequence, a number of researchers have been attracted by evolutionary studies of human behaviors. Some think that a continuity among prosocial attitudes of human beings and other social mammals can be detected, and that this fact has relevance for accounting for human morality. Others deny one or the other of these claims, or both. The papers in the present special issue address how these topics impact ethics and religion.
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