A philosophical analysis of the biological accounts of morality and altruism

Bilgin, Arda
The main purpose of my thesis is to show that morality is not unique to humans and it does not separate humans from nature. To that end I first discuss the issue of emotions to emphasize that biological accounts are more significant than cultural ones. Then, I focus on the notion of altruism that I find central to morality. In this part, I examine different approaches to altruism and try to reveal that the emotion of empathy is the main motivation behind altruistic behavior. I touch upon the mechanisms underlying empathy and defend a multilayered structure for empathy. Also by appealing to evidence of altruistic behavior in other animal species, I present that there is a continuity of morality between humans and other animals. The phenomenon of morality is about how we get in touch with our environment. Here, the environment is the other individuals with which we interrelatedly constitute a social structure. This structure provides us a less distressed life time compared to a solitary lifestyle. The way such a social structure works is not coincidental or arbitrary. It relies on the emotions that motivate social and moral behavior, and they are the result of a long evolutionary history. Accordingly, the concept of altruism seems to be the most pivotal element of morality because the structure can continue to exist only in an interrelated manner, and this interrelation requires altruistic characteristics. .


Sakin Hanoğlu, Derya; Sol, Ayhan; Department of Philosophy (2021-10)
The aim of this thesis is to investigate whether morality is uniquely human, and to argue that emotions are the basis of morality in the sense that moral behavior is produced by emotions. In order to support my suggestion, I first intend to investigate the nature and function of emotions. Furthermore, I adopt an evolutionary perspective suggesting that our biology pushed us toward caring about certain things surrounding us. In accordance with this assertion, I endeavor to examine whether moral judgments and...
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This dissertation examines the claim that, unlike utilitarianism and deontology, virtue ethics ascribes a positive role to emotions in moral evaluation by taking them as the constituents of moral goodness and moral value. I wish to identify the limit and scope of this claim and to show what kind of emotion theory is suitable for explaining the essential features of virtue ethics. To do so, I defend some kind of cognitivism, the cognitive-affective theory of emotion, as the most suitable theory for virtue et...
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Özdemir, Ece Özge; Sol, Ayhan; Department of Philosophy (2006)
The goal of this thesis is to argue that science is not value free on the grounds of a community based account of ethics. It is the peculiar feature of this model that ethics is a limitation on individual's freedom of action, and moral norms of a community reflect the structure of the community. I endeavour to resolve the problem, on an assumption that science is an activity of scientific community, that science ethics can be derived from the internal structure of scientific community. Therefore, this thesi...
A different approach to evolutionary ethics: from biology to society
Aydın, Aysun; Sol, Ayhan; Department of Philosophy (2008)
In this thesis I analyze the evolutionary ethics and propose a new perspective that develops on the notion of altruism. The view of evolutionary ethics, especially the sociobiological account, has some problems. The most important philosophical problem is the “is-ought” problem which refers to the question as to whether moral propositions can be inferred from factual statements. In order to overcome this problem I suggest a different reading of the notion of altruism namely “altruistic behavior practice” th...
A two-tiered cognitive architecture for moral reasoning
Bolender, J (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2001-06-01)
The view that moral cognition is subserved by a two-tiered architecture is defended: Moral reasoning is the result both of specialized, informationally encapsulated modules which automatically and effortlessly generate intuitions; and of general-purpose, cognitively penetrable mechanisms which enable moral judgment in the light of the agent's general fund of knowledge. This view is contrasted with rival architectures of social/moral cognition, such as Cosmides and Tooby's view that the mind is wholly modula...
Citation Formats
A. Bilgin, “A philosophical analysis of the biological accounts of morality and altruism,” Thesis (M.S.) -- Graduate School of Social Sciences. Philosophy., Middle East Technical University, 2020.