EVOLUTION OF MORALITY | BOOK BRIEF
   The Temptations of Evolutionary Ethics,
   The Secret Chain & The Evolution of Morality
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Farber, Paul. 1994. The Temptations of Evolutionary Ethics, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 0-520-21369-6.

Bradie, Michael. 1994. The Secret Chain, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. ISBN-13 9780791421062.

Joyce, Richard. 2006. The Evolution of Morality, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. ISBN -13 9780262600729.


Some books are important chiefly for what they teach us not to believe. These three books are all noteworthy because they help frame the limits of evolutionary approaches to morality and culture. They are mostly cautionary in tone. For example, many persons imagine want evolution to ultimately answer the question of 'human nature' or what moral principles "really" are (or should be). Paul Farber and Michael Bradie each provide a healthy check by discussing how trying to justify particular human values from the facts of evolution fails. Farber's book is mostly historical, Bradie's more philosophical. Both underscore the problem of naturalizing cultural ideologies that is, inscribing one's own cultural beliefs into nature.

Richard Joyce echoes similar sentiments in The Evolution of Morality, using more philosophical prose (and correspondingly less biological rigor); he concludes, characteristically, "we should reject or modify any theory that would render us epistemic slaves to the baby-bearing capacities of our ancestors" (p. 219).
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© 2008. Douglas Allchin | EVOLUTIONofMORALITY.net