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Human and other natures

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While I agree with the main theses put forward by Flack and de Waal, I am sceptical about whether we learn much about human morality by looking at the behaviour of other primates or our own evolutionary history. I am especially doubtful about attempts to use such data as a base for conclusions about ‘human nature'. More direct methods of studying human nature indicate that our genotype is compatible with a very wide range of behaviours, including all those required by even the most demanding ethical theories. Unfortunately, the same is true of all the behaviours forbidden by even the least demanding ethical theories. The important question, it seems to me, is whether we can identify the developmental and environmental factors that bring out our best.
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 062680-2054, USA.

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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