The Biology and Psychology of Moral Agency by William Andrew Rottschaefer

By William Andrew Rottschaefer

This significant e-book brings fresh findings and theories in biology and psychology to undergo at the primary query in ethics of what it skill to act morally. via proposing an entire version of ethical service provider according to modern evolutionary idea, developmental biology and psychology, and social cognitive concept, the e-book bargains a distinct point of view. it will likely be learn with revenue via a wide variety of philosophers, in addition to psychologists and biologists.

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Extra resources for The Biology and Psychology of Moral Agency

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There is a fair amount of flexibility in ordinary usage, but, as a rule, ordinary usage includes motivations. Thus, although both biological and ordinary uses of altruism and selfishness exclude a mere accidental connection between a behavior and the one who benefits, ordinary usage can include a continuum of motivational modes ranging from nonconscious mechanisms through emotionally motivated acts to planned acts with intentions for short- or longer-term effects. 39 Biological bases of moral agency Given these major differences, we can see immediately that biological selfishness excludes ordinary selfishness if the benefits of that selfishness have no connection with survival and reproduction.

If there is no such thing as species selection and if individual selection cannot explain such altruistic behavior, what can? Is Darwinian theory incomplete or even incorrect? One plausible way to show how Darwinian theory could explain such altruistic behavior is called group selection. A group is usually considered to be a population that is smaller than the entire species but that includes more than the organism and its direct and indirect descendants. Group selection might occur if altruism promotes the good of the group rather than that of the individual.

If nature 33 Biological bases of moral agency selects for those organisms that are more fit than their competitors, then it seems that nature would select against organisms that behave in ways that benefit others over themselves. Darwinian natural selection should select for selfish traits, not altruistic ones. So it seems. To help clarify the problem of altruism, let's make some preliminary distinctions between biological altruism, psychological altruism, and morality. First, although all forms of altruism have to do with providing benefits to another at some cost to oneself, we can distinguish them on the basis of the types of benefits involved in each case.

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