On the Evolutionary Origin of Morality


BEYTULHIKME-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY, vol.12, no.1, pp.149-164, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.18491/beytulhikme.1760
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Central & Eastern European Academic Source (CEEAS), Index Islamicus, Philosopher's Index, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.149-164
  • Keywords: Morality, naturalism, evolution, animal morality, naturalistic ethics, metaethics, non-anthropocentric ethic, rationality, PUNISHMENT
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


In this study, I will approach morality from a naturalistic perspective and defend that morality is a product of evolutionary processes shared by both human and non-human animals rather than that of human culture. My naturalistic approach is based on simpler components instead of high-level cognitive capabilities such as cognition. Rationality, judgment, and free will are indeed presented as necessary for morality in classical definitions of morality. However, I will put forward that the roots of morality can be understood as the biological disposition in the evolutionary process. Moreover, in this paper, I will propose that morality is not a phenomenon that ought to be restricted to humans. I think morality is not a phenomenon that is exclusively human; rather, morality can be expanded to non-human animals. To defend this claim, I will indicate that morality has a natural content and that this content does not have a structure that can only be justified on a rational basis, but that this normative structure can be established through biological/evolutionary mechanisms and can be explained in this way.