chapter  4
22 Pages

Darwin and Evolutionary Moral Psychology

I shall argue that evolutionary psychology undermines a strong and typical argument against sociobiological forays into ethics, namely, the one by the preeminent evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala quoted above (1995). Many people hold variants on Ayala’s views, which imply that a naturalistic, evolutionary study of ethics is not possible beyond a few very general points about how ethical behavior originated (i.e., natural history). My method is to draw lessons from Darwin’s views in relation to evolutionary psychology for the relevance of evolution to three questions: about the natural history of morality (descriptive ethics), moral norms (prescriptive or normative ethics), and meta-ethics (philosophical ethics). I assume that evolutionary psychological studies should not be narrowly identified with an innatist-adaptationist approach, but instead seek multidisciplinary integration of fields within psychology and adopt a multilevel biopsycho-sociocultural approach to human nature (Holcomb, 2002). Let me first contrast Ayala’s basic approach with my own in a way that speaks to philosophical problems raised in Crawford’s introduction to this volume.