Friday, January 5, 2007

some more re: morality

By John West.

from here.

1. Darwinism and Traditional Morality

In my book, I challenge the attempt to locate a non-relative justification for morality in Darwinism. According to a Darwinian conception of ethics, every behavior regularly practiced by at least some subpopulation of human beings is ultimately a product of natural selection. Thus, while the maternal instinct is “natural” according to Darwinism, so is infanticide. While monogamy is “natural,” so are polygamy and adultery. Because of this uncomfortable truth, even some noted Darwinists such as Thomas Huxley have recognized the difficulty of grounding ethics in a Darwinian understanding of nature. If all human behavior patterns are equally justified by natural selection, then there is no way to use Darwinism itself to classify any particular behavior as intrinsically right or wrong. For example, if natural selection is a complete explanation for pedophilia on the part of certain males, how can we say that such behavior is intrinsically wrong in Darwinian terms? Pedophilia must persist in a certain subpopulation of males because it offers a survival advantage selected for by natural selection. Thus, in Darwinian terms, the behavior of pedophiles is just as defensible as the behavior of non-pedophiles. Of course, if we believe in a moral standard that exists outside of the Darwinian process of natural selection, we can judge pedophilia according to that standard and declare it to be wrong. But according to Arnhart, no such standard exists. The most significant problem with Darwinism is not that it encourages amoral behavior but that its purported account of morality undermines the ability to make objective and non-relative distinctions between what is moral and what is immoral.


Anonymous said...

Be touched by His Noodley Appendage.

CJYman said...

I have been touched!!!

(It was a rather "tomatoey" experience and I have been stained by His Sauce for life)