Who Knew?

From the NYT.

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say. From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.

Someone should tell Brian Skyrms. I bet he’d have something interesting to say about this newly considered source.

3 Replies to “Who Knew?”

  1. Skyrms work is excellent, but it’s certainly not (as you seem to imply) among the first to suggest that ethics might have evolutionary origins. That honor goes to Darwin; among philosophers, Spencer was probably the first. Reasonably well worked out evolutionary proposals were developed in the 80s by Michael Ruse; more recently Kitcher did some important work on the topic, as did Sober.

    As a rule of thumb, you will worsen your ratio of true beliefs to false by reading reports of scientific work in the popular press.

  2. The other thing that bugged me about that line was that the “seldom considered” part seems to be explicitly contradicted by several other recent articles in the NYTimes claiming that various researchers had discovered that morality comes from evolution.

  3. I shouldn’t have implied that Skyrms was first. I was just using the first name that came to mind on the topic. The NYT article was so bad that I couldn’t really get a way to even do moderate-quality snark.

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