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…

Science outreach: A conversation

From the Freethinkers Blog Con: With PZ Myzer and Aron Ra.

How to argue with silly thing believers

[Apologies this took a while; I’ve been rather sick] So, given all this [Why believers believe silly things, why they believe the particular silly things they do, and the developmental hypothesis of belief acquisition], how can you change a believer’s mind? It is tempting to say that you cannot, or to take a more rationalist Read More…

Why do believers believe THOSE silly things?

If, as I argued in the last post, believers believe silly things in order to make the community cohere in the face of competing loyalties of the wider community, why is it that they believe the things they believe? For example, you will often see Jews attempt to argue that kashrut (kosher, in Yiddish) dietary rules Read More…