Course Information
Course title
Evolutionary Ethics 
Designated for
Curriculum Number
Curriculum Identity Number
104 49900 
Tuesday 8,9,10(15:30~18:20) 
The upper limit of the number of students: 80. 
Ceiba Web Server 
Course introduction video
Table of Core Capabilities and Curriculum Planning
Table of Core Capabilities and Curriculum Planning
Course Syllabus
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Course Description

Evolutionary ethics is the study of human morality from the perspective of evolutionary biology. What is characteristic of such study is that it involves empirical as well as philosophical investigation. Empirical evolutionary ethics explores the evolutionary origin of morality, drawing evidence from primatology, developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, and so on. Essential to philosophical evolutionary ethics is the claim that facts about human evolution can help address certain perennial problems in moral philosophy, such as how we ought to act or whether our moral judgments are justified.
Empirical evolutionary ethics hasn’t really taken root until Darwin’s publication of The Descent of Man in 1871. In the course of the second half of 20th century, W. Hamilton’s work on kin selection, R. Trivers’ work on reciprocal altruism, along with the sociobiology advocated by E.O. Wilson, and the evolutionary psychology at its heel, helped to revive empirical evolutionary ethics. Such a revival prompted a number of philosophers to pay attention to evolutionary ethics, and even to claim that the time for ethics to be biologicized has come.
The question of how promising philosophical evolutionary ethics is depends on whether and to what extent it could succeed in:
(1) establishing that morality is a biological adaptation (the thesis of moral nativism);
(2) showing that moral nativism has implications for ethics (the thesis of relevance); and
(3) finding out exactly what significant implications there are (either the vindication thesis or the undermining thesis).
The prospects of biologicizing ethics would be dim without demonstrating that all three claims are plausible.
In this course, we aim to assess the prospects of philosophical evolutionary ethics by scrutinizing each of the three theses. 

Course Objective
This course aims to explore the evolutionary origin of human morality, and to draw its implications for moral philosophy. 
Course Requirement
Student Workload (expected study time outside of class per week)
Office Hours
Appointment required. 
1.James, Scott M. An Introduction to Evolutionary Ethics (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).
2.Joyce, R. (2006) The Evolution of Morality, The MIT Press.
3.Ayala, F. (2010) “What the Biological Sciences Can and Cannot Contribute to Ethics” in F.J. Ayala & R. Arp (eds.) Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 316-336.
4.Kitcher, P. (2003) “Four Ways of 'Biologicizing' Ethics” in P. Kitcher, In Mendel's Mirror: Philosophical Reflections on Biology, Oxford University Press, pp. 321-332.
5.Kitcher, P. (2006) “Between Fragile Altruism and Morality: Evolution and the Emergence of Normative Guidance” in G. Boniolo & G. De Anna (eds.) Evolutionary Ethics and Contemporary Biology, Cambridge University Press, pp. 159-177.
6.Korsgaard, C.M. (2006) "Morality and the Distinctiveness of Human Action" in S. Macedo and J. Ober (eds.) Primates and Philosophers--How Morality Evolved, Princeton University Press, pp. 98-119.
7.Korsgaard, C.M. (2010) “Reflections on the Evolution of Morality.” The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy 5 (2010): 1–29. .
8.Prinz, J.J. (2008) “Is Morality Innate?” in W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.) Moral Psychology, vol. 1, The Evolution of Morality: Adaptations and Innateness, MIT Press, pp. 367-406.
9.Rachels, J. (1990) “How Evolution and Ethics Might be Related” in J. Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism, Oxford University Press, pp. 62-98.
10.Ruse, M. & Wilson, E.O. (1986/1994) “Moral Philosophy as Applied Science” in Philosophy, 61: 173-192; reprinted in E. Sober (ed.) Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, 2nd edition, MIT Press. 
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