Evolutionary Moral Realism: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Evolutionary Moral Realism

1st Edition

By Michael Stingl, John Collier


240 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780367281304
pub: 2019-12-17
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 17th December 2019

FREE Standard Shipping!


Against standard approaches to evolution and ethics, this book develops the idea that moral values may find their origin in regularly recurring features in the cooperative environments of species of organisms that are social and intelligent.

Across a wide range of species that are social and intelligent, possibilities arise for helping others, responding empathetically to the needs of others, and playing fairly. The book identifies these underlying environmental regularities as biological natural kinds and as natural moral values. As natural kinds, moral values help to provide more complete explanations for the selection of traits that arise in response to them. For example, helping in an aquatic environment is quite different than helping in an arboreal environment, and so we can expect the selection of traits for helping to reflect these underlying environmental differences. With the human ability to name, talk and reason about important features of our environment, moral values become part of moral discourse and argument, helping to produce coherent systems of moral thought.

Combining a naturalistic approach to morality with an equal emphasis on moral argument and truth, this book will be of interest to philosophers and historians of biology, theoretical biologists, comparative psychologists, and moral philosophers.

Table of Contents

1. Evolutionary Moral Realism; 2. The Moon in the Water; 3. Moral Trajectories; 4. Moral Sense Theories; 5. Reason, Rational Contracts, and Selfish Genes; 6. Natural Moral Values and Moral Progress; 7. Partial and Impartial Moral Reasons; 8. Moving from Is to Ought; Conclusion.

About the Authors

John Collier (1950-2018) was professor emeritus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He received his PhD from The University of Western Ontario and taught or researched at Rice, Calgary, Newcastle, Melbourne, and the Konrad Lorenz Institute. His research interests were in the philosophy of science, biological and evolutionary theory, information theory, and complexly organised systems. He published widely in journals such as Biological Theory, Biosemiotics, Cognition, Communication and Co-operation, Biosystems, Theoria, The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Revue Internationale de Philosophie and Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Michael Stingl received his PhD from Toronto and has taught at Rice, Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge where he is currently an associate professor in Philosophy. He has sat on several provincial health ethics boards and was the coordinator of the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. His research interests are in the areas of evolutionary ethics and biomedical ethics. He has published articles in Biological Theory, Biology and Philosophy, The Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. He is the editor of The Price of Compassion: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia (Broadview 2010).

About the Series

History and Philosophy of Biology

This series explores significant developments in the life sciences from historical and philosophical perspectives. Historical episodes include Aristotelian biology, Greek and Islamic biology and medicine, Renaissance biology, natural history, Darwinian evolution, Nineteenth-century physiology and cell theory, Twentieth-century genetics, ecology, and systematics, and the biological theories and practices of non-Western perspectives. Philosophical topics include individuality, reductionism and holism, fitness, levels of selection, mechanism and teleology, and the nature-nurture debates, as well as explanation, confirmation, inference, experiment, scientific practice, and models and theories vis-à-vis the biological sciences.

Authors are also invited to inquire into the "and" of this series. How has, does, and will the history of biology impact philosophical understandings of life? How can philosophy help us analyze the historical contingency of, and structural constraints on, scientific knowledge about biological processes and systems? In probing the interweaving of history and philosophy of biology, scholarly investigation could usefully turn to values, power, and potential future uses and abuses of biological knowledge.

The scientific scope of the series includes evolutionary theory, environmental sciences, genomics, molecular biology, systems biology, biotechnology, biomedicine, race and ethnicity, and sex and gender. These areas of the biological sciences are not silos, and tracking their impact on other sciences such as psychology, economics, and sociology, and the behavioral and human sciences more generally, is also within the purview of this series.

Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and Visiting Scholar of Philosophy at Stanford University (2015-2016). He works in the philosophy of science and philosophy of biology and has strong interests in metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy, in addition to cartography and GIS, cosmology and particle physics, psychological and cognitive science, and science in general. Recent publications include "The Structure of Scientific Theories," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and "Race and Biology," The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. His book with University of Chicago Press, When Maps Become the World, is forthcoming.



Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General