• Play-doh
    9
    I both agree and do not agree with Rosenberg's view on morality and evolution. I feel like it is possible for our core morality to stem from natural selection and adaptive drives. However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals? If we are so determined to survive and overpower the strong, why is murder or even just hurting someone not one of our core morals? Why do we feel it is wrong to mess with weaker people? Bullying is exactly that: picking on weaker people, but we, overall as a society, view bullying to be wrong. It feels contradictory that something that would increase our chance for survival would go against our morals—that is if our morality does truly stem from natural selection and adaptive drives. This could, however, prevent us from getting into potentially dangerous situations and prevent us from surviving, so in a way, to survive, we have become more passive over time.

    Even looking at it from the perspective that reproduction and passing genes are our main drives in core morality, it still doesn't explain why we see soldiers as "good" and people who kill people in the streets as "bad." If evolution got us to a point where we think that killing should be frowned upon, there shouldn't be a situational deviation; it should be all good or all bad no matter the situation. If morality did really stem from evolutionary changes, there wouldn't be so many morally grey areas in case-by-case situations of crimes, where sometimes it is acceptable and other times it is not. I think it's just interesting to think about. If it is not evolutionary, is it something spiritually-connected that we are born knowing—morality? It is something that it is God given, in the event that there is a God?
  • Relativist
    490
    I both agree and do not agree with Rosenberg's view on morality and evolution. I feel like it is possible for our core morality to stem from natural selection and adaptive drives. However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals?Play-doh
    I believe morality is rooted in empathy. Dog-eat-dog is egocentric - the exact opposite of empathy. Actions that are driven by empathy make us feel good - they are also helpful to the proliferation of our species.

    Dog-eat-dog behavior is the opposite of empathy; it doesn't make us feel good, it makes us feel powerful and dominant. It doesn't help the species proliferate; instead, it strengthens the species by culling out the weak.

    Morality pertains specifically to the things that make us feel good or bad about behavior.
  • Abecedarian
    13
    My question to you would be, how did empathy rise up as the dominant moral compass for humankind? I believe your argument looks like this:

    1. If our core morality stems from natural selection and adaptive drives, then the basis for morality is equivalent to the proliferation of humankind
    2. If people are more empathetic, is helpful to the proliferation of our species
    3. Therefore, empathy a basis for morality

    My argument is against premise 2. It would seem like there could be an argument that there are much better ways to increase the number of humans than direct empathy. It seems that rape and adultery could increase the number of mankind at a faster rate. However, it certainly seems that rape and adultery are not considered morally correct.
  • Brillig
    11
    why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals?Play-doh

    From an evolutionary perspective, groups of humans that cooperated were more likely to survive than groups that competed, and so cooperative social behaviors were passed on more often. I believe this answers most of the questions you pose in your first paragraph.

    The soldier question is slightly more complex, but still explainable. Humans have developed a myriad of instincts through evolution that promote social bonds on various levels, such as family, city, and country. Each of these serves a purpose in promoting the survival of the individual. The soldier functions as a defense mechanism of one of those social circles (the country), but the average person that kills in the street does not.

    If evolution got us to a point where we think that killing should be frowned upon, there shouldn't be a situational deviation; it should be all good or all bad no matter the situationPlay-doh

    I don't really understand the inference you make here - why wouldn't evolution allow for deviation in morality? It allows for deviation in other traits, like amount of fur or beak size. Morality doesn't seem to function like those simple examples, but we can find situational deviation in other instincts as well. We could consider that evolution has equipped us with adrenaline that typically engages a fight-or-flight response when we are frightened. However, I've experienced many potentially frightening situations, like scary movies or sudden noises, that did not engage that response, usually due to mitigating circumstances. Perhaps I was alone in my room and felt very safe. Regardless, the point is that there's lots of room for situational deviance in evolutionary traits, including morality.

    I haven't necessarily proved that morality completely stems from evolution here, but I hope I've defended the theory from some of your objections. So to respond to your title-question, "Should the Possibility that Morality Stems from Evolution Even Be Considered?", I'd say yes, we should continue to consider that possibility.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    I both agree and do not agree with Rosenberg's view on morality and evolutionPlay-doh

    As you start with this sentence, it would be useful to say who 'Rosenberg' is, and what his or her views are on the matter.

    In any case, I am dubious of the application of evolutionary theory to ethics. My doubts have been exacerbated by the casual way in which many people simply assume that there is an obvious relationship between evolutionary biology and ethics, as if there must simply be an obvious connection, now that evolution has replaced religion as the normative description of the origin of human nature.

    That said, there has been considerable work done by evolutionary biologists on the evolution of altruism. It is not hard to demonstrate that altruism does indeed support successful propagation. I suppose then the question arises as to whether altruistic behaviours provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for ethical behaviour, generally. Instinctively, I feel that there is much more to it but I suppose arguing the case would take some digging.

    But in any case, the point about the application of evolutionary principles to ethics, is that the theory is ultimately always about 'what survives'. So it must amount to a kind of utilitarian ethics, a 'what works' attitude. Not that there's anything drastically the matter with it, but ethical theorists might find it lacking.

    I have no beef with entomology or evolution, but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics. Consider the fact that human action ranges to the extremes. People can perform extraordinary acts of altruism, including kindness toward other species — or they can utterly fail to be altruistic, even toward their own children. So whatever tendencies we may have inherited leave ample room for variation; our choices will determine which end of the spectrum we approach. This is where ethical discourse comes in — not in explaining how we’re “built,” but in deliberating on our own future acts. Should I cheat on this test? Should I give this stranger a ride? Knowing how my selfish and altruistic feelings evolved doesn’t help me decide at all. Most, though not all, moral codes advise me to cultivate altruism. But since the human race has evolved to be capable of a wide range of both selfish and altruistic behavior, there is no reason to say that altruism is superior to selfishness in any biological sense.

    RIchard Polt, Anything but Human
  • The Devils Disciple
    20
    Hmmmm.

    I have allways wondered whether evolution might be a good explanation as to why, (some) humans are endowed with a conscience.
    For example: humans who felt an instincual revulsion to murder, lived in more stable tribes, this in turn resulted in propagation of DNA. Conversely humans who lacked this revulsion to murder, lived in unstable tribes ultimately resulting such that DNA would not get passed along. (I have no evidence for this, its just a hypothesis).

    What i cannot explain is why a trait for 'not stealing' would have evolutionary advantage. That said I'm not so sure our conscience endows us with a revulsion to theft. Perhaps aversion to theft is learned rather that acquired, so a sociologucal factor rather than a biological factor.

    @Brillig explained (quite well) why we evolutionarily evolved to kill humans outside our group (soilders for instance) but why we dont kill within the group (a random on the street for instance). He states
    Humans have developed a myriad of instincts through evolution that promote social bonds on various levels, such as family, city, and country.Brillig
    Where i would disagree with this explanation is that cities and countries are very recent phenomenon (on an evolutionary timescale). While we are constantly evolving, an insufficient length of time has passed, during which to evolve in respect to these new sociological inventions. For the sake of enhancing your argument, when one tribe (or family) encountered another tribe (or family), their were many risks, diesease transmition or insufficient food/water for both tribes to coexist. Thus the tribe that could kill the other had an evolutionary advantage. When more tribes start killing each other it adds an additional risk factor when tribes encounter each other. The ability to kill outside of your tribe/family became a necessity for surrvival, while within the tribe/family there remain all the evolutionary factors for why not to kill. In essence within groups killing reduces surrvival, but between multiple groups killing increases chance of survival.

    This is however a side note your question, my real problem with an evolutionary explanation would be that it describes how humans act and have acted. What an evolutionary explanation cannot tell us, is why we aught to act a certain way (note Humes is aught distinction). Additionally by my estimation evolution lacks a definitive value on which to ground morality or ethics, unless one counts surrvival to be a sufficient value. I find such a foundational value to be very dubious because it fails to distinguish whose survival is important, mine? Yours? Everyones?
  • LD Saunders
    314
    Morality is definitely based on evolution. This includes cooperation between people, and there are scientific models laying this out for people, especially if one references evolutionary game theory. If you stop and think about our most basic moral principles, like very few people are surprised that Trump has his children heading up his cooperation --- because we know that parents favor their children. The reason this makes evolutionary sense is because the parent wants to make sure their genes get passed on. We also favor our family members, like brothers, cousins, etc., over strangers. Now, certainly this isn't always the case, but it is true on average. As mentioned above, groups that cooperate and are more altruistic defeat groups that have exclusively selfish members.

    We can also see a great deal of human moral behavior in existence in our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos.

    If we were reptiles the chances of us having the same morality that we now have as evolved social primates would be zero.

    Even Peter Singer accepts a great deal of evolutionary biology as an explanation for human morality. He simply does not think it is reducible to human biology, which is what evolution also tells us. Our main trait is intelligence, compared to other species, and that allows us a greater variety of behavior, and so we can build off of our basic morality and expand on it through moral debate. But, for anyone to claim that morality has nothing to do with biology is a rejection of basic science in the same way that creationists reject evolution. If one believes in evolution, then looking for evolution's impacts on human traits makes logical sense. It really makes no sense to claim we evolved, but, evolution has nothing to do with human traits, including such things as intelligence, compassion, etc. There is not a single human trait that is not impacted by human genetics.
  • Relativist
    490
    My question to you would be, how did empathy rise up as the dominant moral compass for humankind?Abecedarian
    Perhaps pointing to "empathy" is too specific, but I think it's clear that we have an innate sense of right and wrong - certainly it entails a non-verbal, mental capacity. Certain things SEEM wrong, like if we see a person being beaten or killed - this touches our emotions. So empathy doesn't capture this exactly, but it's close.

    It is an innate feeling that we have, and I suggest morality stems from this feeling. It's not "dominant" it IS the basis of morality. My hypothesis isn't arrived at by deduction, rather - by abduction. It's the best explanation I'm aware of for morality, although I'm open to considering other possibilities.

    The factors that led me to this hypothesis: we actually do have empathetic feelings - these are not learned and therefore they seem innate. Morality is consistent with morality - it entails putting ourselves in someone else's place. The "golden rule" seems to have risen in various cultures independent of one another, which suggests it is a rational interpretation of our innate feelings, including empathy. The golden rule encapsulates much of morality.
  • LD Saunders
    314
    Empathy most likely would have started out as concern for our children, and we also have mirror neurons in our brains that allow us to basically feel what others feel. So, it's biology.

    A key piece of evidence deals with the trolley problems. Most people agree that pulling the lever is okay to avoid killing 5 people, while killing 1 instead. However, most people also reject pushing the fat man onto the tracks, despite the fact the outcome is now different, five people will die instead of just one. However, neuroscience has sown that a different area of the brain lights up in the two situations, as physically pushing the person makes a biological difference in how the information is processed.

    If one looks at the field of psychology these days, it's heavily influenced by biology. This includes topics addressing moral psychology.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    Morality is definitely based on evolution.LD Saunders

    The problem with your account, is that it doesn't come to terms with the fundamentally sisyphean predicament of being human. Like all evolutionary theory, it implicitly assumes that the only aim in life is, ultimately, survival, passing on the genome.

    But religious ethics are premised on there being an aim above and beyond that of merely surviving. That is represented in various symbol and mythological narratives, but I think it amounts to something more than simply myth. In Buddhism, for example, the ultimate aim of existence is Nirvana, which is said to be 'world-transcending' and the ending of all suffering. The possibility of that aim, or the potential for realising it, provides a dimension or background to 'experience of being human' which is not at all encompassed by biology.

    Even Peter Singer accepts a great deal of evolutionary biology as an explanation for human morality.LD Saunders

    He has no choice, being atheist.

    Every progress in evolution is dearly paid for; miscarried attempts, merciless struggle everywhere. The more detailed our knowledge of nature becomes, the more we see, together with the element of generosity and progression which radiates from being, the law of degradation, the powers of destruction and death, the implacable voracity which are also inherent in the world of matter. And when it comes to man, surrounded and invaded as he is by a host of warping forces, psychology and anthropology are but an account of the fact that, while being essentially superior to all of them, he is the most unfortunate of animals. So it is that when its vision of the world is enlightened by science, the intellect which religious faith perfects realises still better that nature, however good in its own order, does not suffice, and that if the deepest hopes of mankind are not destined to turn to mockery, it is because a God-given energy better than nature is at work in us. — Jacques Maritain
  • LD Saunders
    314
    Wayfarer: I stopped at this first claim made by you, because I am not sure where you are getting this from, but it's not true. You stated that, "The problem with your account, is that it doesn't come to terms with the fundamentally sisyphean predicament of being human. Like all evolutionary theory, it implicitly assumes that the only aim in life is, ultimately, survival, passing on the genome." Evolution is not concerned with whether any specific individual has children. If it were, then we would have a much different world. In fact, over-production can definitely be a problem, and why would evolution support a species that overproduces? As long as there is sufficient reproduction in the species as a whole, evolution accounts for the birth rates, and thus, evolutionary theories are not in any way wedded to the notion that "the only aim in life is passing on the genome." At least this is true for any given individual's genome.


    Moreover, evolutionary biology allows for proximate causes, and is not limited to such a goal being in the head of any individual. We take care of our children, not because we are cold-blooded calculating machines, but because we love them. We have sex, not because we are cold-blooded calculating machines, but because sex is pleasurable. Evolutionary biology has long recognized that proximate causes for behavior is different from the ultimate cause, so biology does not by any means state that there is only one goal in a person's life. Far from it.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    Evolution is not concerned with whether any specific individual has children.LD Saunders

    I didn't say it was. What I'm saying is that it's a biological theory, the aim of which is to give an account of speciation, right? So while it has something to say about the evolution of the capacity for ethics, it is nevertheless reductionist, in that it implicitly assumes that ethical philosophy is a function of biology. So my argument is that evolutionary biology tends to promote a basically utilitarian attitude to ethics.
  • LD Saunders
    314
    Wayfarere: It's not reductionist though. Far from it. In fact, in modern biology, if anything, it's about as anti-reductionist as a science can get.

    Evolutionary biology most definitely does not promote utilitarianism. As I indicated with the trolley problem. If it did promote utilitarianism, then the same part of the brain would light up in both scenarios, but, since it doesn't, this is biology verifying that we are not utilitarians. In fact, just look at the link regarding disgust and ethics, which is clearly non-utilitarian.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    It is 'utilitarian' in the sense that it is only concerned with biological ends and means. I suppose what I'm arguing, is that religious ethics is anchored with reference to a transcendent good, whereas evolutionary naturalism must exclude any such reference as a matter of principle. This of course is one of the underlying themes of the so-called 'culture wars' over evolutionary biology, so I should add, I am not arguing on behalf of any form of intelligent design.

    There's a useful abstract here.
  • SophistiCat
    579
    Trying to guess what evolution would favor based on a naive first guess is a losing proposition, especially for something as complex as psychology. Evolutionary solutions are not obvious even for much simpler problems; this is why evolutionary algorithms are used to solve problems that can't be solved with our usual analytical methods.

    If you are interested, a lot of research, both theoretical, computational and experimental, has been done in the field of the evolution of morality, and specifically altruism and cooperation. There are popular-level books and articles that cover these topics.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    Incidentally, what the Rosenberg mentioned in the OP argues is

    that our moral senses are part of our human nature. We have a “core morality” programmed into us by evolution to enable us to interact socially and so exploit a cooperative evolutionary niche. Of course evolution doesn’t care about the morality itself, it only cares (metaphorically “cares” of course) about what leads to us leaving more descendants. It follows that (page 286): “there are no facts of the matter about what is morally right or wrong, good or bad”. But it also follows, since humans are highly similar genetically, that “most people naturally buy into the same core morality that makes us tolerably nice to each other” 1.
  • Relativist
    490
    “there are no facts of the matter about what is morally right or wrong, good or bad
    Is there no "fact of the matter" regarding the pain experience (the quale)? I think there is: pain is a state of consciousness. IMO, the sense of right/wrong is something like that - and this is why I relate it to empathy: we actually feel something when we see, or even ponder, some basic wrongs.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    True enough, but hardly the basis for an ethical philosophy. Sometimes a situation might require the endurance of pain, or even voluntarily submitting to painful experiences. And to equate 'pain' with bad, and 'pleasure' with good, is surely just to default to basic hedonism.

    Also that particular snippet might be a reference to the 'is/ought problem', first articulated by Hume, in his celebrated passage:

    In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last [i.e. highest] consequence.

    Which is something that haunts every discussion of science and ethics. There's a discussion of the issue in respect of evolutionary ethics here.
  • Relativist
    490
    "And to equate 'pain' with bad, and 'pleasure' with good, is surely just to default to basic hedonism."

    I wasn't equating pain with bad and pleasure with good. I referred to pain as an analogy to the unique feeling of empathy. Empathetic feelings are not the same thing as pain.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    Sure, agree. I recall that one of the main underlying attributes of psychopathic behaviour is the absence of empathy.
  • Belouie
    10


    First off, I would like to start by establishing the fact that, all killing is bad.

    When soldiers come home from overseas, and people thank them for their service, the soldiers are not being commended for committing "good" murder. That is not what people thank them and look up to them for.

    However, I see what you are getting at with the concept of "situational deviation."

    I don't believe that our view of morality is a product of natural selection, because of essentially everything you said in your post. What evolutionary factor could possibly account for the conflict between our survival instinct and our morality?

    Personally, I attribute the cause of our morality to be Divine Command Theory, or the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God.

    However, the idea of Divine Command Theory raises some new questions regarding the concept of objective moral truths.

    When creating humans, did God create us with a moral compass pointing in the direction of certain pre-existing moral truths? Or did God create moral truths, specifically for us?
  • macrosoft
    674
    However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals?Play-doh

    The genius of humans is their ability to work together. What a waste our relatively massive brains would be if we didn't network them with language (language 'is' that network in some sense), which requires moralities that make that network possible by encouraging cooperation. One simple way to see the advantage of networks is to consider specialization. A community that protects individuals in their variety allows individuals to explore a vast space of imaginative and technical possibility only to return with their rare finds and make them common property. We can ask ourselves what any of us would be without our inherited technology, linguistic and traditional. And we can also ask ourselves why we consciously strive to survive. For most I think the answer is enjoyable relationships. This is not at all to deny our aggressive potential, but this is often directed so as to protect our community from its uglier forms (literal aggression as opposed to defensive violence.)
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals? If we are so determined to survive and overpower the strong, why is murder or even just hurting someone not one of our core morals? Why do we feel it is wrong to mess with weaker people?Play-doh

    We are and we evolved from species that needed to band together and cooperate to survive.
  • SophistiCat
    579
    The genius of humans is their ability to work together.macrosoft

    It's not even some unique genius of humans. Dogs don't actually eat dogs (not as a rule), nor do bats nor bees nor any number of social animals. In fact, even solitary hunters, who you might think would be most prone to violence, generally avoid conflict with their conspecifics, because even when advantage is on their side, it's usually just not worth spending energy and risking an injury.
  • macrosoft
    674
    It's not even some unique genius of humans.SophistiCat

    That's a good point.I suppose what I had in mind is the linguistic sophistication that goes along cooperation. And I also like the point about conspecifics. War is 'expensive,' and it only makes sense (even from the perspective that assumes an amoral greed) when the reward justifies the risk.
  • gnat
    9

    Here is the proof of your argument:
    1. Morality comes from natural selection.
    2. If morality comes from natural selection, then morality must be universal.
    3. Morality is not universal.
    4. Therefore, morality did not come from natural selection. (MT 2,3)

    In opposition to the second premise, I propose that morality is both evolutionary and circumstantial, in which setting-dependent moral action maximizes survival. According to this line of reasoning, your solider-criminal example is accounted for. You explained that a soldier defending their country from invasion would be honored for weakening the enemy, but a sociopath who killed children would be punished. In this example, we see that morality is dependent on the circumstances and not actions. It must be noted that accepting the existence of circumstantial morality is not a denial of morals born from natural selection. You assume that natural selection exclusively benefits the individual, but I argue that it benefits both the individual and the community which accounts for altruistic morality and the lack of “dog-eat-dog morality” you mentioned. However, the individual still remains the ultimate priority as a result of reciprocity. Sociologically, reciprocity is rewarding kind action with kind action. These exchanges provide the individual with resources and social alliances, which reveals altruistic morality to be ultimately self-serving because it contributes to maximizing the chance for survival of both the individual and the community. The soldier is a perfect example of reciprocity. In return for protecting their country and killing lives of the enemy, the soldier receives domestic benefits, things like healthcare and discounts. Additionally, the soldier kills to protect not only themself, but also their community. This is all to say that I don’t see altruism as a threat to the idea that morality is constructed through natural selection. In fact, taking certain moral action in response to a particular setting maximizes chance for survival.
  • Tzeentch
    93
    3. Morality is not universal.gnat

    What if morality is universal, but societies simply get them (partially) wrong most of the time?

    Aren't there many 'rules' that one could think of, that when humanity would follow them the world would be a better place? Isn't that universal morality?
  • karl stone
    203
    I both agree and do not agree with Rosenberg's view on morality and evolution. I feel like it is possible for our core morality to stem from natural selection and adaptive drives. However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals?Play-doh

    Because you fundamentally misunderstand evolution - when you reduce it to the adage 'survival of the fittest.' Humans evolved in a tribal context - and the tribe best able to survive was one in which its individual members had a moral sense that compelled them to share food, fight together against threats, look after the young and so forth. Fittest in that sense, was anything but dog eat dog. Something Nietzsche got wrong to catastrophic effect.
  • Kippo
    46
    Fittest in that sense, was anything but dog eat dog. Something Nietzsche got wrong to catastrophic effect.karl stone

    We have "tribal" loyalty yet fear of "others" so "sheep eat goat" perhaps sums us up better. These are hard wired tendencies, but not necessarily overpowering of the intellect.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I feel like it is possible for our core morality to stem from natural selection and adaptive drives. However, if that were really the case, why isn't the dog-eat-dog morality one of our morals? If we are so determined to survive and overpower the strong, why is murder or even just hurting someone not one of our core morals?Play-doh

    Left to our own devices (such as in the science fiction post apocalyptic scenario) we would probably find dog-eat-dog morality rising to the surface pretty quickly. So, what is it that suppresses this natural behavior in ordinary, non-apocalyptic situations?

    According to Stephen Pinker, it is the State (in some form) that suppresses violence. The state is the expression of common interests, and constant violence (hyena-eat-jackal-eat-wildebeest...) is contrary to ordinary individual security. One might add that constant ad hoc violence is also not in the interest of the state. "State" here means centralized authority; king, city state, powerful priesthood, town council, parliament, politburo, mafia, or what-have-you).

    So, continuing with Pinker (The Better Angels of our Nature) a reduction in interpersonal violence is very recent in human history--maybe as recent as during the last 10,000 years. 10K years marks the rise of city and the city state, a more tightly organized form of existence then the hunter-gatherers who characterized the previous millennia.

    I would submit that evolution is not all about violence. Lions don't selectively cull out the best wildebeests, they tend to cull the old, sick, or injured wildebeest, because those are the easiest to kill. Wildebeest can graze safely near a recently fed pride of lions.

    What seems to happen in human society when the control of the state recedes (such as during natural disaster, riot, revolution, war...) is that opportunism rises to the surface. A riot presents an opportunity to acquire goods for free. Looting isn't violence as much as it is opportunism. Rape, wanton killing, brutality, and all that is a marker for severe social breakdown, and it seems to take a lot of breakdown to get really uninhibited violence.
  • tenderfoot
    7

    Hi Bitter Crank!

    I think you are making a very good point. It certainly seems that the power structure and justice systems impose an order and morality on humanity. In our world today there are clearly widely held values and morals that regarding treatment of others and giving of one’s self that may seem contrary of themes of individualism or even tribe mentality one might expect from survival based morals. However, maybe those moments when “the State” breaks down, the violence and opportunism that ensures is indicative of more primitive instincts.

    I think your argument is as follows:
    1. If humans’ primary goal is to maintain individual security and opportunism, then morals have evolutionary origins
    2. If there is no centralized authority, humans’ primary goal is to maintain individual security and opportunism.
    3. If there is no centralized authority, then morals have evolutionary origins (1,2 HS)
    4. Humans originally had no centralized authority
    5. Humans’s morals originally had evolutionary origins (3,4 MP)

    One problem I have with this argument however is Premise one. I don’t think it follows that opportunism is an indicator of evolutionary morals, rather it is an indicator of survival instincts that exist independent of morals. Morals are beliefs about the right way to act in the world. Instincts are concerned with self preservation. We hold our morals because we think they are true, while our instincts exist to preserve the body. I think it becomes very problematic if we are holding our morals for a reason other than truth.
    It seems the main argument here is that humans exhibit evolution-driven morals that manifest in society-oriented ways when there is central authority maintaining the society, or they manifest in individual/offspring oriented ways when there is a breakdown of society. Even if these behaviors are exhibited however, I don’t think we can certainly say it is due to evolution. I think morals could exist independent of evolutionary forces, even if they contribute to a stable society, survival, or passing on of genes. In addition, I think our instincts for survival are not the same as our morals. Reactions to a dangerous situation are not the same as thought out choices we make aligned with our values.
    In the examples you cited about anarchy breaking out and violence ensuing, this may reveal a weakness in humans; people might abandon or subjugate their values out of fear and desire to survive. I don’t think this in itself is evidence of remnant morality of the past, I think this reveals the impact irrationality and persistence of a will to survive.
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