Article ID: CBB001201354

Morality and Nature: Evolutionary Challenges to Christian Ethics (2014)


Keywords: anthropology;Thomas Aquinas;Christianity;emotions;evolutionary biology;morality;personhood Abstract Christian ethics accentuates in manifold ways the unique character of human nature. Personalists believe that the mind is never reducible to material and physical substance. The human person is presented as the supreme principle, based on arguments referring to free-willed actions, the immateriality of both the divine spirit and the reflexive capacity, intersubjectivity and self-consciousness. But since Darwin, evolutionary biology slowly instructs us that morality roots in dispositions that are programmed by evolution into our nature. Historically, Thomas Huxley, Darwin's bulldog, agreed with Darwin on almost everything, except for his gradualist position on moral behavior. Huxley's saltationism has recently been characterized by Frans de Waal as a veneer theory of morality. Does this mark the end of a period of presenting morality as only the fruit of socialization processes (nurture) and as having nothing in common with nature? Does it necessarily imply a corrosion of personalist views on the human being or do Christian ethics have to become familiar again with their ancient roots?

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Authors & Contributors
Woodford, Peter
Jonathan R. Topham
Holmes, Tarquin
Priest, Greg
Nys, Michiel
van Wyhe, John
Journal of the History of Ideas
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
University of Chicago Press
Oxford University Press
Lexington Books
Johns Hopkins University Press
Science and religion
Science and ethics
Moral philosophy
Science and literature
Darwin, Charles Robert
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Spencer, Herbert
Smith, Adam
Gray, Asa
Richard Holt Hutton
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
Great Britain
United States
Royal Commission on Vivisection (1875)

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