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The Evolutionary Roots of Morality in Theological Perspective

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Theological ethics can interpret the relation between evolution and morality in at least three ways. The reductionist approach holds that morality emerges because it is adaptive. The independent approach maintains that morality develops without registering the influence of evolution. Finally, the interdependence position holds that morality reflects the influence of evolution to the extent that the latter shapes human emotional capacities and predispositions, for example, those regarding reciprocity and kin preference. The third approach is more suitable for theological ethics, which attends to ways in which natural desires can be ordered to serve morality, for example, to be habituated to virtue, and to ways in which we must strive to curb or minimize their disruptive effects on human communities.
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Keywords: evolutionary theory; morality; reductionism; theological ethics; theology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

Publication date: 1998-12-01

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