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The Evolution of Morality [NOOK Book]

Overview


Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis....
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The Evolution of Morality

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Overview


Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking--staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms--if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies"--might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject.Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Joyce's approach is refreshing, and he wears his learning lightly....

[He] does an excellent job of bringing philosophy to the ordinary reader, using striking and quirky examples of different moral judgements.... His bold, jargon-free approach means that this work is serious philosophy can nonetheless by understood by the non-philosophically trained layperson." Matthew Cobb Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Richard Joyce is Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington and author of The Evolution of Morality (MIT Press, 2006).

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     ix
Introduction: Human Nature     1
The Natural Selection of Helping     13
The Nature of Morality     45
Moral Language and Moral Emotions     75
The Moral Sense     107
The Evolutionary Vindication of Morality     143
The Evolutionary Debunking of Morality     179
Conclusion: Living with an Adapted Mind     221
Notes     231
Bibliography     247
Index     269
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