Abstract: An Evolutionary Objection to Ethical Objectivism

The idea that there is right and wrong is incredibly intuitive. Charity is right. Slavery is wrong. But if right and wrong exist what does this entail and how do we know what if something is right? If morality exists it must be an objective morality. The right action in a specific scenario cannot be right for one person and not right for another. Another requisite of morality is categorical action guiding power. To do what is right you may have to act against your desires, thus morality must be able to motivate  independently of desire. We cling to the idea of morality because if morality didn’t exist then. Surely, without morality there would be no reason for people not to just kill each other on sight or lie without a care.

However, we cannot accept morality exists simply because we fear a world without it. Like everything else we believe exists we must have reasoning beyond intuition. There is no positive reason why morality exists. In fact, many moral actions can be explained by evolution. Research in affective and cognitive neuroscience has show that “moral” instincts have evolved overtime. This summer, I plan to read and analyze studies and articles on the evolution of moral behavior. 

Beyond scientific research, there is significant philosophical evidence against morality. J.L. Mackie argues that the idea of motivation independent of desires is too weird to fathom. In addition to my scientific research, I will research philosophical objections to ethical objectivism and find the intersection of this research and the scientific research I have accumulated.

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