Evolution of morality: The brain science of ethical decisions.

2. Facts about the well-being of conscious creatures are accessible to science.

Science and morality, Moral Maze - BBC Radio 4

Hi Keith — Thanks for your input. There's a lot of work in psychology on this, primarily by Joshua Greene and his colleagues, and they show (if you accept their interpretation of the data) kind of the opposite of your intuition: that is, across a range of moral dilemmas, people seem instinctively to choose the "deontological" answer (and this answer is associated with automatic/ emotional processes), whereas it is controlled, effortful, later-to-evolve brain processes that drive utilitarian thinking. (I'm not sure I agree that the data show this, but that's a different story). Either way, people are clearly able to choose options (or reasons in ways) which might be thought of as both deontological and utilitarian, and I'm not sure that a statistical shading of ease going one way or another gives us anything to work with to answer, "how should we live?" Clearly lots of morally respectable behaviors go against the grain of what feels 'natural' or what we may have an evolved predisposition to do …
Best,
Brian

A duly cautious claim about the explanatory role of evolution withrespect to morality in the empirical sense might therefore be:

Morality, Science, and Religion | Psychology Today

One concept of rationality that supports the exclusion of sexualmatters, at least at the basic level, from the norms of morality, isthat for an action to count as irrational it must be an act that harmsoneself without producing a compensating benefit forsomeone—perhaps oneself, perhaps someone else. Such an accountof rationality might be called “hybrid”, since it givesdifferent roles to self-interest and to altruism. An account ofmorality based on the hybrid concept of rationality could agree withHobbes (1660) that morality is concerned with promoting people livingtogether in peace and harmony, which includes obeying the rulesprohibiting causing harm to others. Although moral prohibitionsagainst actions that cause harm or significantly increase the risk ofharm are not absolute, in order to avoid acting immorally,justification is always needed when violating these prohibitions. Kant(1797) seems to hold that it is never justified to violate some ofthese prohibitions, e.g., the prohibition against lying. This islargely a result of the fact that Kant’s (1785) concept ofrationality is purely formal, in contrast with the hybrid concept ofrationality described above.

I think what he's saying is that eventually hard science will have better, more precise answers for all questions of moral philosophy.

On the face of it, the mere fact that natural selection would not have'designed' our moral faculties to track moral truths accurately (as itplausibly designed our perceptual faculties to track facts aboutmedium sized objects in typical human environments) is not obviouslyproblematic. There are, after all, lots of cases where we seem to beable to grasp genuine truths even though those truths play no role inthe story of how our basic mental capacities evolved. We are able tograsp truths of quantum field theory or higher dimensional topologyor, for that matter, philosophy (or so we are assuming in evenengaging in this debate) even though those truths had nothing to dowith why the basic mental capacities underlying these abilitiesevolved in Pleistocene hominins. Those capacities evolved in responseto selection pressures in ancestral hunter-gatherer environments, andwe have simply learned how to develop, train and exercise them incultural contexts to discover truths that go far beyond any that wererelevant to the evolution of those underlying capacities. Philosopherswho endorse some form of moral realism have typically believed thatwe've done the same thing in grasping moral truths (see sections2.4–2.5).

The nub seems to be Hume's is-ought. Without dismantling that, we cannot have a branch of science that focuses on ethics.


Science and Morality - Scientific American Blog Network

Like the other moral arguments for God's existence, theargument from moral knowledge can easily be stated in a propositionalform, and I believe Swinburne is right to hold that the argument isbest construed as a probabilistic argument that appeals to God asproviding a better explanation of moral knowledge than is possible in anaturalistic universe.

Philosophy, Morality, and Science Articles

Some philosophers may believe that the randomness of Darwiniannatural selection rules out the possibility of any kind of divineguidance being exercised through such a process. Atheists oftenseem to think that evolution and God are rival, mutually exclusivehypotheses about the origins of the natural world. What can beexplained scientifically needs no religious explanation. However,this is far from obviously true; in fact, if theism is true it isclearly false. From a theistic perspective to think that God andscience provide competing explanations fails to grasp the relationshipbetween God and the natural world by conceiving of God as one morecause within that natural world. If God exists at all, God is notan entity within the natural world, but the creator of that naturalworld, with all of its causal processes. If God exists, God isthe reason why there is a natural world and the reason for theexistence of the causal processes of the natural world. Inprinciple, therefore, a natural explanation can never preclude atheistic explanation.

Science of morality - Psychology Wiki

Most moral realists who offer moral theories do not bother to offeranything like a definition of morality. Instead, what thesephilosophers offer is a theory of the nature and justification of aset of norms with which they take their audience already to beacquainted. In effect, they tacitly pick morality out by reference tocertain salient and relative uncontroversial bits of its content: thatit prohibits killing, stealing, deceiving, cheating, and so on. Infact, this would not be a bad way of defining morality, if the pointof such a definition were only to be relatively theory-neutral, and toallow theorizing to begin. We could call it “thereference-fixing definition” or “the substantivedefinition”.