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Evolutionary ethics

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Evolutionary ethics is the study of ethics or morality in light of evolution. It deals with issues like the evolution of altruism, selfishness or, more broadly, cooperation. It focuses on meta-ethical issues by studying the ontology of morality and on normative ethics by assessing how evolution can influence normativity.[1]

Religious claim to ethics[edit]

A claim frequently made by some religious theorists is that ethics may only be arrived at by means of religion and that if humans arrived on Earth by a process of the theory of evolution all of us would be only interested in our personal well-being. They suggest that the very existence of morals shows that evolution is impossible. Unfortunately, the very existence of this claim demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the mechanisms of evolution. An objective examination of the evidence shows that evolution can quite easily produce what we refer to as "morals".

Morals derived from evolution[edit]

The underlying theme of the theory of evolution is that the fittest or most able to survive will reproduce and pass on their genes. In order to both survive and, more importantly, reproduce individuals must — at some level — learn to cooperate with members of their own species. This is especially true of social species such as humans.[2]

As the intelligence of the species increased, individuals who did not learn to cooperate and engage in such activities as reciprocal grooming had reduced opportunities for reproduction and their genes were removed from the species. Those who displayed compassion and kindness had increased opportunities to reproduce and their genes became fixed in populations.[2]

Social Darwinism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Social Darwinism

A favorite claim of Young Earth Creationists is that the theory of evolution naturally implies racism, genocide, and other horrors; if the strongest species ought to survive, doesn't it follow that humanity ought to destroy the weaker of the races, or that these races are of lesser value? The short answer is "no." The long answer is "Absolutely not. There is no such thing as "race" for humans because genes show clinal variation, not distinctive groupings.[3] We all share 99.9% of the same DNA. We even share about 50% D.N.A. with a banana, and we do not commit genocide on them, we cultivate them." However, CreationWiki still "thinks" so,[4] and so does Conservapedia.[5] We offer a long rebuttal in the Essay:Social Effects of the Theory of Evolution.

See also[edit]


  1. Evolutionary Ethics Internet Encyclopedia of Ethics.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Natural History of Human Morality by Michael Tomasello (2016) Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674088646.
  3. The History and Geography of Human Genes by L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza; Paolo Menozzi; Alberto Piazza (1994) Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691087504.
  4. Hitler based his views on Darwinism (Talk.Origins) CreationWiki.
  5. Social effects of the theory of evolution Conservapedia (archived from September 21, 2021).