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Biology, Ethics, and Animals$
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Rosemary Rodd

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198240525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240525.001.0001

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Are Humans Moral? The Problem of Sociobiology

Are Humans Moral? The Problem of Sociobiology

(p.199) 9 Are Humans Moral? The Problem of Sociobiology
Biology, Ethics, and Animals

Rosemary Rodd

Oxford University Press

‘Sociobiology’ was introduced by Wilson to denote the scientific study of ways in which the social behaviour of animals and humans is shaped by biological processes. Sociobiological literatures use the terms ‘selfish’ and ‘altruistic’ in a technical way which can be found in Dawkins's book The Extended Phenotype. This chapter presents two fundamental lines of thought that are involved in the development of ‘biological’ systems of ethics. It argues that humans need to be moral because they need to be able to work out how to balance conflicting interests in a flexible way. If we are to make use of a sociobiological account of the origin of morality we must build up a theory which accounts for the genuine complexity of human moral choice.

Keywords:   sociobiology, Wilson, social behaviour, biological processes, selfish, altruistic, Dawkin, ethics, moral, interests

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