First published in 1960, this book discusses the ethical implications of the view of man’s nature and his place in the biological world. C. H. Waddington highlights issues of the time, such as social upheavals related to social mobility, and the changing nature of philosophical thinking in relation to the nature of good.
The author argues that man differs from all other animals in his ability for social teaching and learning and that this provides him with a second method of evolutionary advance, in addition to biology. He advances this through the idea that man has the capacity to entertain ethical ideas, which is an essential and necessary feature of this new mode of evolution. From here he draws the conclusion that a consideration of the broad trends of evolution provides a framework within which we can rationally discuss the relative merits of the various systems of ethical belief current in the world.
In presenting his argument, Waddington draws on research in biology, psychology, the social sciences, and philosophy. He concludes with a short consideration of some of the most important ethical problems facing mankind at the time of the book’s publication.
Preface 1. The Importance of Ethics 2. Human Value and Biological Wisdom 3. Squaring the Vienna Circle 4. The Relevance of Developmental Facts 5. The ‘Naturalistic Fallacy’ 6. The Concept of Function 7. The Possibility of Evolutionary Theory 8. The Shape of Biological Thought; or the Virtues of Vicious Circles 9. The Biological Evolutionary System 10. The Human Evolutionary System 11. The Course of Evolutionary Progress 12. The Evolution of the Socio-genetic System 13. Human Evolution and the Fall of Man 14. Freedom and Reason 15. Understanding and Believing 16. Biological Wisdom and the Problems of Today; References; Index