“Are Evolutionary Explanations a Good Foundation for Understanding Morality?”

Taking sides: Clashing views on Psychological Issues

ISSUE: “Are Evolutionary Explanations a Good Foundation for Understanding Morality?”

YES: Patricia Churchland: The neurobiological Platform for Moral Values: Behavior (2014)


NO: Edwin Gantt: “Morality, Red in Tooth and Claw: How Evolutionary Psychology Renders Morality Meaningless ” Original Essay (2017) I will take pictures of this article and send as an attachment

Patricia Churchland argues that morality can best be explained in terms of evolutionary theory. She asserts that brain chemicals, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, are responsible for social bonding in mammalian species. These nonapeptides cause individuals to treat others in various ways such as protecting them from pain and desiring to keep them healthy. Churchland calls these sorts of feelings and behaviors “other-care.” Because human beings learn sociability through observation and problem-solving, Churchland claims that morality is based on a group’s understanding of sociability. Many cultures have the same moral and ethical principles (e.g., don’t kill) due to the human race’s evolutionary roots. Prepared specifically for this edition of Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues, Edwin E. Gantt refutes the notion that evolutionary psychology is the best way to explain the development of morality. He argues that if this way of accounting for behavior is true, then every action we take is determined by our biology and its interactions with the environment, and, thus, our moral sense becomes only the experience of an illusion. He states that evolutionary psychology itself rests on a self-nullifying argument as our moral desires and sensibilities would be based only on reproductive success and not on the rational search for truth. Gantt describes previous research that shows how an individual’s views on morality and free will affect their choices and argues that the way we view our world and the essence of morality affects how we act toward others.

1. Choose and briefly introduce a point from the first article and a point from the second article.

2. Discuss how the author(s) of the other article would respond to that point (i.e., imagine some sort of debate between the authors about those points you chose).

3. Choose 2 points from each of the articles that you find most surprising, and explain why.

IMPORTANT: (a) limit the length of the post (250 words excluding questions and references – please write the actual number of words at the end of your post), (b) check for plagiarism, (c) APA style of citation and referencing, and (d) use of complete sentences and capitalization. Plagiarism Free

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