Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Evolution Obliterates Morality?

There was a quote put forth in Ruse in an effort to discern whether Darwin ever flirted seriously with the concept of group selection. It nevertheless carries other implications that caught my interest. I reproduce it here:

"It is extremely doubtful whether the offspring of the more sympathetic and benevolent parents, or of those which were the most faithful to their comrades, would be reared in greater number than the children of selfish and treacherous parents of the same tribe. He who was ready to sacrifice his life, as many a savage has been, rather than betray his comrades, would often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature. The bravest men, who were always willing to come to the front in war, and who freely risked their lives for others, would on an average perish in large number than other men."

Does evolution obliterate morality? Are the noblest and greatest of service to the group destined to sacrifice themselves for the survival of those who indulge in a shallow life of self-preservation? Or is morality, a noble character, a learned rather than an evolutionary trait, and could the stuff of heroes spring from a brood of spoiled children and a bloodline of thoroughly spoiled adults?

1 comment:

Dr. Fox said...

Good post David--it's precisely this issue we'll be discussing in class today. So you should have an answer by, oh, 11:50 or so. ;-)