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Paula Casal
ETHICS & EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE
He who understands baboon
would do more towards
metaphysics than Locke.”
CHARLES DARWIN (1838)
And what should they know
o...
Metaethics
Normative ethics
Applied ethics
medical, animal, etc.
ETHICS: prudence & morality
Political philosophy
Distribu...
MAJOR SIMPLIFICATIONS AHEAD
Don’t worry about slides with long lists:
Their point is: “the list is long”
Non-person humans
Non-human persons
Homo sapiens’ DNA? Human
Intelligence, self-awareness …? Person
Intelligence, self-
awareness & mental
contiguity
“a thinking intelligent being
that has reason and
reflection and can
con...
1. Minimal intelligence
2. Self-awareness
3. Self-control
4. Sense of time
5. “ of the future
6. “ of the past
7. Capabili...
Can you be the same person from conception if twinning
can happen 2 weeks later?
Gallup test
COGNITIVE CAPACITIES
Abstraction, maths,
Understanding/use/invention
of words
Search/use/manufacture of
tools and medicine...
MORAL CAPACITIES
Compassion, altruism, food sharing with
young/old/sick, adoption, consolation,
intra and interspecies emp...
Female tool use
Bonobo
sharpening,
chimp
termite-ing
orang-utan
fishing,
gorilla
measuring
depth
large bodies & groups
empathy
spindle neurons
death rituals
mirror neurons
inter-species altruism
tool use
long term e. me...
Longevity makes large maternal investments worthwhile
22 months
Orang 6
LGorila 5
MGori 4
Bonobo 4
Chimp 5
Elephant 5
Dolphin 3
Empathy, mind reading, motherese
Gorillas
.
Playing games with rules…
Grief, death rituals
Interspecies
empathy
SUMMARY
• There can be a scientific contribution to a
philosophical debate; eg about abortion.
• Philosophical concepts li...
Metaethics
Normative ethics
Applied: medical
environmental, animal
ETHICS: prudence & morality
Political philosophy
Distri...
Hobbes Kropotkin Marx
wolves cooperators no nature
Skeptics: science is biased and dispensable.
Social inequalities/disadvantages are caused by
social and political structures, which are, eg. racist or
sexist. They are...
Gibbon
Orang
Gorilla
Human
Chimp
Bonobo
Monogamy and dimorphism
Major sexual dimorphism
SUMMARY
• Skepticism is unpersuasive
• An evolutionary perspective can make a
contribution to a philosophical debate; eg.
...
Metaethics
Normative ethics
Applied: medical
environmental, animal
ETHICS: prudence & morality
Political philosophy
Distri...
Are moral claims beliefs that aspire to truth?
Yes! No!
Cognitivist Non cognitivist
Emotivists: Hume
Prescriptivist: Hare
...
Adaptation
physiological behavioral
inherited (instinct) learned (culture)
Effects of evolution
Emotional and intellectual...
Rules of cooperation
Social division of labour
Jus ad bellum & in bello
Good Samaritan laws…
Property rules, begging and
sharing rules…
Rules for construction-ownership, first
occupancy, crying wolf, antipedophilia
Is ethics species-dependent
just like aesthetics ?
Ache, Paraguay 40-50 Machiguenga, Perú 15Aché, Paraguay offer
40+ in ultimatum game
More cooperative less
Moral attitudes have evolved because they were
adaptive.
Specific rules also evolved because they were
adaptive.
So evolut...
But success cognitivism may survive.
It is consistent with context-dependency and so
diversity is not decisive.
Arguably w...
Summary: science is
not threatening to ethics,
or to feminism, and saves us from
investing in the wrong assumptions.
It is...
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal
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81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal

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Casal and Sturm present two different ways in which philosophy relates to science. Sturm begins by sketching “philosophical naturalism”, a view that tries to answer philosophical questions employing methods and data from the empirical sciences. He then analyses the ongoing debate between the “heuristics and biases” approach and the “bounded rationality” program in order to assess the potential of naturalizing rationality, and its limits. Casal turns to ethics. Ethics is a branch of philosophy usually divided in three levels: metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Casal focuses on the relevance of scientific findings, particularly in evolutionary biology, to major controversies in all these levels.

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81st ICREA Colloquium 'Two Perspectives on the Relation between Philosophy and Science' by Paula Casal

  1. 1. Paula Casal ETHICS & EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE
  2. 2. He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.” CHARLES DARWIN (1838) And what should they know of England who only England know?” RUDYARD KIPLING (1892)
  3. 3. Metaethics Normative ethics Applied ethics medical, animal, etc. ETHICS: prudence & morality Political philosophy Distributive justice Public policy
  4. 4. MAJOR SIMPLIFICATIONS AHEAD Don’t worry about slides with long lists: Their point is: “the list is long”
  5. 5. Non-person humans Non-human persons
  6. 6. Homo sapiens’ DNA? Human Intelligence, self-awareness …? Person
  7. 7. Intelligence, self- awareness & mental contiguity “a thinking intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself the same thinking thing in different times” JOHN LOCKE An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) Ch. XXVII, Identity and Diversity Sec 9. Personal identity
  8. 8. 1. Minimal intelligence 2. Self-awareness 3. Self-control 4. Sense of time 5. “ of the future 6. “ of the past 7. Capability to relate to others 8. Concern for others 9. Communication 10. Control of existence 11. Curiosity 12. Change and changeability 13. Balance of rationality and feeling 14. Idiosyncrasy 15. Neo-cortical function J. Fletcher, “Indicators of Humanhood”,J. Walter & T. Shannon, Quality of Life, (NY: Paulist Press, 1990)
  9. 9. Can you be the same person from conception if twinning can happen 2 weeks later?
  10. 10. Gallup test
  11. 11. COGNITIVE CAPACITIES Abstraction, maths, Understanding/use/invention of words Search/use/manufacture of tools and medicines Curiosity, manual dexterity, Aesthetic appreciation (sunsets, music, cuisine…) Sense of humor Capacity to plan multiple steps and hope Long-term emotional memory Theory of mind
  12. 12. MORAL CAPACITIES Compassion, altruism, food sharing with young/old/sick, adoption, consolation, intra and interspecies empathy Sense of death, support after death, frustration and hope Friendship, loyalty, cooperation, reciprocity Reconciliation initiated by winner, loser or third party Punishment and scolding for breaking rules o harming the group, submissive reaction to scolding 2nd order preferences controlling 1st order preferences Stability of egalitarian distributions, preference for impartial arbitration, sense of abuse/ excessive punishment, proportionality in retaliation, etc.). Oops sorry
  13. 13. Female tool use
  14. 14. Bonobo sharpening, chimp termite-ing orang-utan fishing, gorilla measuring depth
  15. 15. large bodies & groups empathy spindle neurons death rituals mirror neurons inter-species altruism tool use long term e. memory linguistic abitility singleton pregnancies longevity number of neurons Extreme K-reproduction Bottlenose 12 months, orcas 18 Mammalian persons
  16. 16. Longevity makes large maternal investments worthwhile 22 months
  17. 17. Orang 6 LGorila 5 MGori 4 Bonobo 4 Chimp 5 Elephant 5 Dolphin 3
  18. 18. Empathy, mind reading, motherese
  19. 19. Gorillas . Playing games with rules…
  20. 20. Grief, death rituals
  21. 21. Interspecies empathy
  22. 22. SUMMARY • There can be a scientific contribution to a philosophical debate; eg about abortion. • Philosophical concepts like “personhood” may contribute to a scientific enquiry.
  23. 23. Metaethics Normative ethics Applied: medical environmental, animal ETHICS: prudence & morality Political philosophy Distributive justice Public policy
  24. 24. Hobbes Kropotkin Marx wolves cooperators no nature
  25. 25. Skeptics: science is biased and dispensable.
  26. 26. Social inequalities/disadvantages are caused by social and political structures, which are, eg. racist or sexist. They are social products or consequences of wrongdoing. Justice requires redressing them. Natural inequalities/disadvantages are matters of brute luck, not social products, not the product of injustice. Regretable but not unjust. Redressing them is not required or not urgent.
  27. 27. Gibbon Orang Gorilla Human Chimp Bonobo
  28. 28. Monogamy and dimorphism
  29. 29. Major sexual dimorphism
  30. 30. SUMMARY • Skepticism is unpersuasive • An evolutionary perspective can make a contribution to a philosophical debate; eg. on the natural/social distinction.
  31. 31. Metaethics Normative ethics Applied: medical environmental, animal ETHICS: prudence & morality Political philosophy Distributive justice Public policy
  32. 32. Are moral claims beliefs that aspire to truth? Yes! No! Cognitivist Non cognitivist Emotivists: Hume Prescriptivist: Hare Can they approach it? Sometimes! Never! Success theorists Error theorists J.L. Mackie R. Joyce S. Street
  33. 33. Adaptation physiological behavioral inherited (instinct) learned (culture) Effects of evolution Emotional and intellectual useful norms and capacities nec + suf prohibitions for moral conduct (incest, bestiality…)
  34. 34. Rules of cooperation Social division of labour Jus ad bellum & in bello Good Samaritan laws…
  35. 35. Property rules, begging and sharing rules…
  36. 36. Rules for construction-ownership, first occupancy, crying wolf, antipedophilia
  37. 37. Is ethics species-dependent just like aesthetics ?
  38. 38. Ache, Paraguay 40-50 Machiguenga, Perú 15Aché, Paraguay offer 40+ in ultimatum game More cooperative less
  39. 39. Moral attitudes have evolved because they were adaptive. Specific rules also evolved because they were adaptive. So evolutionary debunking explanations of moral norms could be aided with examples from biology, illustrating -The argument from diversity -The argument from pure functionality
  40. 40. But success cognitivism may survive. It is consistent with context-dependency and so diversity is not decisive. Arguably we can have adequate reasons to retain certain beliefs, and place the debunking at the normative, rather than the metaethical level; eg.we can explain why racism, nepotism and homophobia are wrong, and have an evolutionary debunking explanation of their origin. Our rejection stands on an even more solid ground.
  41. 41. Summary: science is not threatening to ethics, or to feminism, and saves us from investing in the wrong assumptions. It is essential to address what matters most urgently, such as climate ethics

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