Phil. 490: The Evolution of Morality (Vailati)
Office: PH 2412; phone x3376
Office hours: MW 11-12; T 5-6, and by appointment.
This course presents some accounts and models of the evolution of prosociality and morality, and evaluates their success. Supposing we could produce a satisfactory account of how evolution brought about morality, what philosophical consequences, if any, should we infer?
1. Frans De Waal, Primates and Philosophers (Princeton University Press, 2006)
2. Assorted handouts and downloads
An interesting short text on the evolution of morality written by a biologist is here.
Week topics and readings
Week 1: Introduction to the topic
Weeks 2: Prosociality, morality and primates. Reading: De Waal, pp. 3-80.
Week 3: De Waal’s critics and his replies. Readings: De Waal, pp. 81-181. (This topic is continued for part of next week)
Week 4: Continuation of De Waal. Moral judgment: Readings: Waller, What Rationality Adds to Animal Morality, J. Haidt and S. Kasebir, Morality
(both handouts) First quiz.
Week 5: Homo economicus, its problems and behavioral game theory; Reading: Heinrich et al., In Search of Homo Economicus; Camerer and Fehr, Measuring Social Norms (All handouts)
Week 6: Hunter/gatherer societies; readings: Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest, ch. 4 and ch. 8 (handout). For today’s plight of hunter/gatherers and of tribal people, http://www.survivalinternational.org/
Weeks 8-9: Evolutionary game theory.
Weeks 10: Possible models for the evolution of prosociality. Readings: handout from Bowles and Gintis, A Cooperative Species. Third quiz.
Week 11: An agent based computer model. Readings: handout of model results
Week 12: Philosophical consequences: an innate morality? Readings: handouts, R. Joyce, The Evolution of Morality ch. 4; J. Prinz, Is Morality Innate?
Week 13: Philosophical consequences: the debunking of morality? Readings: handout, Kahane, Evolutionary Debunking Arguments. A second-person approach? Reading: handout, S. Darwall, The Second-Person Standpoint, chs. 1-2. Fourth quiz.
Week 14: Philosophical consequences: Relativism? Readings: handouts
Week 15: Final discussion. Fifth quiz.
1. Regular attendance. Missing more than 3 meetings without medical excuse will result in a loss of 10% of the total grade.
2. In-class presentation, worth 20% of course grade
3. 5 quizzes, some in class some take-home, each worth 4% of the total grade
4. A paper of at least 3,000 words on a topic chosen by the student and approved by me, due the last class, worth 40% of course grade. I encourage you to give me rough drafts up to week 13.
5. 4. The final exam, worth 20% of course grade.