1st Edition

Evolutionary Moral Realism

By Michael Stingl, John Collier Copyright 2020
    192 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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.


    John Collier (1950-2018) was Professor Emeritus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He received his PhD from The University of Western Ontario and taught or held research positions 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 organized 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 of 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 (2010).