Charles Darwin ... & the Evolution of Morality
Mozu, the Snow Monkey || Vampire bats || Algebraic variables || Hub    
Charles Darwin was a gentle, quiet man, and a doting father. He and his relatives supported the abolition of slavery. He cringed at the harsh treatment of animals. —Not what one might expect, perhaps, for someone whose theory of evolution is often portrayed as leading only to selfish motives and moral relativism.

Quite the contrary: Darwin introduced thinking about morality in the context of natural history — how it might have originated organically. He recorded his thoughts in private notebooks as early as 1838 — alongside his earliest notions of species change, and published them finally in 1871 in Descent of Man. Darwin's new orientation continues to challenge and inspire us, both biologically and philosophically.

Read more about
a biological approach to explaining morality =>

Despite Darwin's own efforts, many still assume his ideas imply that society ultimately reduces to unfettered competition and "survival of the fittest"—a doctrine misleadingly called "Social Darwinism." Such perspectives are widespread but ill informed, about both Darwin and how to apply our biological knowledge.

Read more about
applying the biology of morality in a social context =>

For more on Darwin's own views, download the essay
"Was Darwin a Social Darwinist?"

© 2008.