Contemporary Meta‐Ethical Alternatives: Evolutionary Naturalism

C. Stephen Evans

in Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780199272174
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602061 | DOI:
Contemporary Meta‐Ethical Alternatives: Evolutionary Naturalism

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Evolutionary naturalism is one possible ground for ethics that does not rely on divine commands. Larry Arnhart, in Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature, attempts to wed Darwinism to Aristotle in the hopes of demonstrating that contemporary biology provides a solid basis for understanding what is good and right for humans. Arnhart’s hopes falter, however, because he cannot maintain a particularistic ethic built on evolution and a universal ethic of obligation. The two cases of slavery and of female circumcision show the woeful inadequacies of an ethic that grounds moral obligation in biology. By contrast, the ethic of love based on a divine command is universal in its scope; neighbour-love extends across differences in race (in the case of slavery) and gender (in the case of female circumcision).

Keywords: Darwinism; evolution; Kierkegaard; Larry Arnhart; meta-ethics; naturalism; universal; Works of Love

Chapter.  10576 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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