Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 21, No 1 (2013)

Evolutionary Ethics and Its Future

Robert Finch
Issued Date: 21 Jul 2014


Historically humans have evolved by the addition of abilities to our behavioral repertoire. Values first developed in the time of the hunter gatherers featuring such traits as strength, bravery and endurance. Men and women often stressed different values. With the advent of civilization values began to include benevolence, fairness and then the growth of knowledge, natural sciences, engineering, medicine and law. Modern humanist ethics began with the work of Hume and the utilitarians. Early humanist ethical systems stressed individual responsibility and the use of social principles. Our principles have evolved through the exercise of reason, by scientific investigation, strategic planning and by including a sense of commitment. Humanism is to be found in a variety of institutions stressing different values, theories and strategic plans. Furthermore humanism is not a finished product, so that the expanding circle of the membership contemplates an evolving set of principles, as well as continuing narratives of our progress. We conclude that there is no quintessential humanist. How then should we strive to improve our definitions, manifestos, practices, reasoning and narratives?

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v21i1.1


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