Evolution and Human Values
Robert Wesson, Robert G. Wesson, Patricia A. Williams
Rodopi, 1995 - Ethics, Evolutionary - 251 pages
Initiated by Robert Wesson, Evolution and Human Values is a collection of newly written essays designed to bring interdisciplinary insight to that area of thought where human evolution intersects with human values. The disciplines brought to bear on the subject are diverse - philosophy, psychiatry, behavioral science, biology, anthropology, psychology, biochemistry, and sociology. Yet, as organized by co-editor Patricia A. Williams, the volume falls coherently into three related sections. Entitled Evolutionary Ethics, the first section brings contemporary research to an area first explored by Herbert Spencer. Evolutionary ethics looks to the theory of evolution by natural selection to find values for human living. The second section, Evolved Ethics, discusses the evolution of language and religion and their impact on moral thought and feeling. Evolved ethics was partly Charles Darwin's subject in The Descent of Man. The last section bears the title Scientific Ethics. A nascent field, scientific ethics asks about the evolution of human nature and the implications of that nature for ethical theory and social policy. Together, the essays collected here provide important contemporary insights into what it is - and what it may be - to be human.
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Page 117 - I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
Page 171 - The time has already come when each country needs a considered national policy about what size of Population, whether larger or smaller than at present or the same, is most expedient. And having settled this policy, we must take steps to carry it into operation.
Page 201 - We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.
Page 41 - The transcendental presupposition of every cultural science lies not in our finding a certain culture or any "culture" in general to be valuable but rather in the fact that we are cultural beings, endowed with the capacity and the will to take a deliberate attitude towards the world and to lend it significance.
Page 133 - The genes hold culture on a leash. The leash is very long, but inevitably values will be constrained in accordance with their effects on the human gene pool.
Page 174 - If we continue to reproduce ourselves in this lopsided way, we will be unable to maintain our present standards. Levels of competence will decline. Our economy will falter, the administration will suffer, and the society will decline.
Page 29 - But the fight is always a means for the promotion of the species' health and force of resistance, and thus a cause for its development towards a higher level. If it were different, every further development towards higher levels would stop, and rather the contrary would happen. For, since according to numbers, the inferior element always outweighs the superior element, under the same preservation of...
Page 45 - We used to think our fate was in the stars. Now we know, in large measure, our fate is in our genes" (quoted by Leon Jaroff, "The Gene Hunt,