- Hardcover: 184 pages
- Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press; 1 edition (March 19, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0773531114
- ISBN-13: 978-0773531116
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,921,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Evolutionary Intuitionism: A Theory of the Origin and Nature of Moral Facts 1st Edition
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Given the rarity of such circumstances, the fact that Good Samaritan behavior exists among humans and is valorized by them can easily be explained by reference to the evolutionary advantages of helping behaviors among close associates and the generalized supportive norms that grow up around such behaviors (as virtually all bioethicists argue). The fact that certain individuals internalize these norms to a degree that is sufficient to produce behavior that aids members of out-groups and eventually proves maladaptive under atypical conditions is hardly surprising. Thus, Zamulinski's "hard case" can be dealt with by nearly any contemporary version of bioethics. One does not need to subscribe to the peculiar philosophical construct that he advances because its relative advantages are based on a misconception of how natural selection produces behavior that we generally think of as moral.
A person interested in the evolutionary foundations of moral intuitions in humans would be better advised to read the four volume set entitled Moral Psychology, edited by Walter Sinnot-Armstong (MIT Press). The contributor's list includes not only philosophers but evolutionary biologists, cognitive and developmental psychologists, anthropologists, and neurologists. Each major selection is critiqued by two commentators (usually from other disciplinary perspectives) followed by a rejoinder provided by the primary author of the selection. If you don't want to dive in quite that deeply, try recent books by Jonathan Haidt or Daniel Dennett. Both approach the empirical work in the area with philosophical agendas. But Zamulinski has his own agenda and ignores large swaths of the existing empirical work in his pursuit of it .
Dr. Zamulinski parsimoniously articulates a theory about moral actions as a byproduct of evolution, rather than being directly selected for. While it is a position I've had for a while in the back of my mind, I've never seen it actually expressed until I bought Dr. Zamulinski's book for a moral theory subject in my philosophy course.
How do we account for actions which seemingly do not explain the birth, survival or reproduction of the moral agent themselves? For example, a life's work helping African orphans is lauded extensively, but this action is not selfish nor helps kin. But, duties, virtue and utility are untenable bases for morality because - how can they bring about the person in which they reside? Any good theory must practically cross this boundary, which this book does. This has been ignored until now, chiefly I think, because the science wasn't available.
I would recommend the book for any student of moral theory, particularly one from a science/medical/biology background.