50 words for snow: addendum 3a, or what counts as sociocultural?

Jim Harrison made the following comment on the last post: … I have trouble understanding how you distinguish the s and the c in your pseudo equation. You mention folk taxonomic as an example of sociological distinctions, but if such taxonomies aren’t part of culture, what’s left to put under c Maybe distinguishing s and Read More…

Thoughts on racism

For many years, I have been very hesitant to speak about race. I’m white (a stupid social construction in itself), male and middle class. Every time I make a comment, in come the critics, attacking me on everything from my own group identity (which, by the way, I do not adopt; being on the spectrum, Read More…

The Abstract and the Concrete, or, the Road to Fascism

I was thinking about the way in which the anti-abortionists justify their views. I have always said that “Pro-Life” is a misnomer. Instead of being pro-life, they are pro-potential life. In order to protect potential lives, they ignore the needs and rights of those who have actual life – the women who cannot for whatever reason carry that Read More…

Morality and Evolution 6: Moral dispositions

[Morality and Evolution 1 2 3 4 5 6 7] In any field that has statistical variation, it is necessary to isolate the variables. Biology is all about statistical variation of populations, and so we must expect that any account of morality that is based upon biology will have variation along a number of axes. Here I wish to sketch out Read More…

Morality and Evolution 5: biology and culture

[Morality and Evolution 1 2 3 4 5 6 7] I should note that there is no set historical sequence implied in the levels 0 to 4, apart from the fact that we were primates before we were humans, so some sort of historical transition from 0 to 1 must occur before any of the others. Each layer contains the contexts Read More…

Morality and evolution 4: Is morality fitness-enhancing?

[Morality and Evolution 1 2 3 4 5 6 7] If we agree that morality enhances fitness, because it enables cooperation, several questions arise: what sort of fitness enhancement does it provide and to what? In short, what is the selection process tracking? To say that morality provides a foundation for social cohesion and the consequent benefits that accrue is not Read More…

Morality and Evolution 1: The Milvian Bridge

[Morality and Evolution 1 2 3 4 5 6 7] A while back I gave a talk to a group of theologians on the question of Darwinian accidents. It had no ethics content. The first question I was asked was “If you are an atheist, how can you have moral rules?” Like many others who talk about Darwin and evolution, I Read More…