Aporias of Evolutionary Ethics: A Review of Normative Ethics as ‘Effective Illusion’


Michael Ruse, one of the most prominent thinkers of the current philosophy of biology, from 1986 to his recent articles has developed an original conception of meta-ethics and normative ethics in an evolutionary key. Starting from an in-depth consideration of morality in the light of the theory of biological evolution, the philosopher defends a meta-ethical skepticism and, at the same time, the characterization of normative ethics as an “effective illusion”: it is an “Illusion” because there is no objective moral criterion; it is “effective” because moral reasoning is underlain by innate mental dispositions correlated with altruistic behaviour. Today, part of his claims are supported by research in sciences such as primatology and moral psychology. However, their meta-ethical and ethical approaches seem to lead to an aporia: given that there are no objective moral criteria and that reasoning has a subsidiary role in morality, normativity in ethics vanishes. The objective of this article is to expose the characteristics of this aporia in the light of recent scientific studies, as well as to propose a possible avenue of investigation that allows searching for plausible solutions.
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Author Biography

E. Joaquín Suárez-Ruíz

Universidad Nacional de La Plata
Magíster en Filosofía (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), Licenciado en filosofía (FaHCE-UNLP) y Profesor en Comunicación Audiovisual (FDA, UNLP). Participa como integrante y colaborador en proyectos de investigación de la UNLP (FaHCE) y de la UBA (FCEyN). Su tema actual es el análisis de la normatividad en ética a la luz de la psicología moral contemporánea. Actualmente es becario doctoral en filosofía del CONICET (FaHCE-UNLP).