Ethics, evolution and the a priori: Ross on Spencer and the French Sociologists

In Robert Richards Michael Ruse (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics (2017)
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In this chapter I critically discuss the dismissal of the philosophical significance of facts about human evolution and historical development in the work of W. D Ross. I address Ross’s views about the philosophical significance of the emerging human sciences of his time in two of his main works, namely The Right and the Good and The Foundations of Ethics. I argue that the debate between Ross and his chosen interlocutors (Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Lucien Levy-Bruhl) shows striking similarities with parallel debates in contemporary moral philosophy.
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