Cc: evol-pscyh 
From: Mark Flinn 
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 11:42:00 -0500
Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Evolution of morality

There is a fine distinction between the 'is vs. ought' naturalistic 
fallacy and what we are discussing here.  A current understanding of 
moral systems, based on evolutionary theory (e.g., Alexander 1987), 
does not suggest that what exists in biological reality ('is') has a 
higher moral standing ('ought').  We are trying to move beyond the 
old Spencerian ideas.  The anti-sociobiology groups that tried to 
discredit evolutionary approaches with those political tactics were 

But that is not to say that 'ought' does not have a scientific 
underpinning.  Folk beliefs are not random, and unless we want to 
place our unquestioning faith in the Koran or the Bible or the Shaman 
of your choice, then we need to try and understand why humans have 


Mark Flinn
Department of Anthropology
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-9404