• Wayfarer
    6k
    As for a "summum bonum," since the overall objective in evolutionary biology seems to be fairly straightforward, could the objective good simply consist of reproductive fitness?Robot Brain

    So basically you're answering your question in the negative.
  • Robot Brain
    4
    I framed my question a few different ways so I'm not sure which one you're referring to.

    I'm certainly not sold on the biological fitness = morality hypothesis I mention above. You pointed out some holes such as altruism and selfishness within a species; although I think they can both play roles in reproductive fitness. I also suspect that my statement of reproductive fitness being an evolutionary objective good could be a gross assumption. I'd like to give it more thought and hope people will poke more holes in it.

    I recall a conversation from years back, where I ventured that there was an objective moral order, which I was then told was an absurd thing to believe. — Wayfarer

    What are your thoughts on an objective moral order? Is this still your stance?
  • Wayfarer
    6k
    I'm certainly not sold on the biological fitness = morality hypothesis I mention above.Robot Brain

    OK then - but from your previous response, I thought that is what you were saying:

    As for a "summum bonum," since the overall objective in evolutionary biology seems to be fairly straightforward, could the objective good simply consist of reproductive fitness?Robot Brain

    Actually I had drafted a long response, but then I thought better of it, but now that you ask, I will try again. (Although I had thought that the Richard Polt essay I referred to was a pretty effective argument against that.)

    Anyway - the elephant-in-the-room has to be religion, I would have thought. The reason being that religion is, generally speaking, the very thing that posits something beyond the purely physical; it's a large part of religions' raison d'être. It says, we're something more than, and other than, simply the product of biology.

    But I don't want to come across as evangelical in saying that, as I certainly don't subscribe to any form of creationism or ID. I fully accept the empirical evidence for evolution; I grew up on Time-Life books and studied undergrad units in pre-historic anthropology and archeology. But I also don't subscribe to the 'conflict thesis' between religion and science, that is a big part of the 'culture wars'.

    So my view (albeit subject to constant revision) is that h. sapiens is capable of realising transcendent truths - which by their nature are indeed timeless; that is the domain of the timeless, if you like. In fact, that ability is what 'sapience' consists of, you could argue. (Hence, modern humans really ought to consider renaming themselves 'homo faber', some have said.)

    However, I favour a kind of religious naturalism - that such a capacity is indeed latent in humans, but one that it is not often realised. So, how I read religious philosophies, is that they are diverse accounts of individuals who have had such realisations, who have 'broken through' to the 'domain of the timeless'. And that's why most of the worlds' moral codes ultimately go back to religious revelations of various kinds (whether Semitic, Vedic, or East-Asian, among others.)

    So that is not actually incompatible with evolutionary biology, but it's certainly incompatible with the secular-scientific attitude that usually accompanies it. (Actually, the very word 'secular' is derived from 'the order of time in the world', to distinguish it from the 'eternal' which was ostensibly the domain of the sacred.)

    So that's about where I'm at, at this time. The process of evolution is not simply physical, but also spiritual - which is basically a taboo for Western secular culture, although it does have its champions. So, discerning that, or aspiring towards it, provides the basis for an ethical code that is not only about 'reproductive fitness', important though that might be.
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