R.A. Hendley wrote:
I certainly agree that there is a difference between the views of Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Psychology (not to be confused with common Psychology or Ethnography) on morality, and that of the formal Ethics of philosophy, the former fields' view being, simply stated, ... [quoted a little further in the post]
Frankly JMD, I have developed some serious doubts that the language of the philosophy of Ethics can meaningfully explain much about the dynamics of ethical theory. A word like "good"
evolved from the doing of specific acts of good. This conflicts with the deductive reasoning found in meta-ethical reasoning where one moves from the general to the specific. There are specific reasons why a particular aunt's pecan pie is a good - texture, taste, etc. A good woodworker is noted for the precision of his work; how straight the legs of his chairs are, how fine the detail is, and how long the item will last. The sum total of all acts of good converge on a theoretical center defined as the generalized word Good. Metaethics does not make the distinction between "indefinable Good" and "definable good." As such, it lacks the requisite precision to solve ethical problems. A science like Evolutionary Biology does not have such a blaring weakness.
Regardless, I'm feeling somewhat unethical for taking this thread on divination around the theoretical block a time or two. My apologies folks.
The 'theoretical block' encompasses the Tarot de Marseille as divinatory tool, so I personally think that (whether in this thread or another) these considerations are important.
I'm aware there is a difference between evolutionary biology, evolutionary ethnography and, for that matter, the whole fields adjacent those of evolutionary epistemology.
Your summary statement certainly forms the view of evolutionary ethics (and also reflects the reductionist approach of some biologists and psychologists):
R.A. Hendley wrote:The evolution of ethical systems is a response to the drive of the human species to survive. Additionally, a whole array of related "rule systems" such as statutory laws, professional codes, customs, and even the rules of etiquette evolve to further human adaptation.
I'll leave aside the deontological notions for, as far as I'm concerned, they simply talk of agreed upon etiquette, laws, and other rule systems that inevitably mistakes agreement and universalisation for ethics.
Whether there is an evolution of ethical insight that more or less parallels cognitive development is very likely. That does not mean, however, that cognitive insight is no more than adaptive evolution. Let's take a less obtuse example: if there is a cognitive development in the faculty of sight, it becomes possible to distinguish, for example, blue from green, or roses from tulips. Whether this has evolutionary advantages is also a worthwhile question, but distinct to whether or not roses are in fact distinct to tulips.
SImilarly, there may be evolutionary advantages to either altruism or egotism, but neither of these talks about ethical insights. We may, for example, distinguish two similar acts in terms of their ethical dimension in part based on the motives of the individual and the circumstances specific to the situation at hand. What evolutionary ethical theorists, or deontologists, or indeed many other -isms have to say of the matter reflects more whether the theory is able to accurately reflect the ethical dimension of the situation than it does about morality itself.