Science and Moral Life   /   Spring 2013   /    Science And Moral Life

Ethics and the Limits of Evolutionary Psychology

Thomas de Zengotita

In After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre offers a hilarious portrayal of philosopher G. E. Moore at Bloomsbury convincing his enraptured audience (it was not difficult) that their particular tastes in art and love reflected quasi-platonic values to which their exquisitely refined sensibilities gave them special access.11xAlasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984) 14–17. While Moore’s positive claims in Principia Ethica (1903) cannot survive MacIntyre’s withering caricature, Moore’s own critique, exposing a “naturalistic fallacy” in the work of predecessors as diverse as Herbert Spencer and Immanuel Kant, holds up well. This essay will apply it to efforts by evolutionary psychologists like Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt to reduce the ethical dimension of human existence to the vicissitudes of natural selection and genetic programming.

To read the full article online, please login to your account or subscribe to our digital edition ($25 yearly). Prefer print? Order back issues or subscribe to our print edition ($30 yearly).