Darwinist philosopher says ethics are an illusion

I disagree with his premise of Darwinism, of course, but I think he is being consistent with his worldview.  If the nothingness-to-molecules-to-Angelina Jolie worldview is correct, then universal ethics would be an illusion.

In The Nature of Nature , Darwinian philosopher Michael Ruse offers us his take on ethics: “Ethics is an illusion put in place by natural selection to make us good cooperators.” (—Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson, 1985), p. 855)

. . .

“Substantive morality stays in place as an effective illusion because we think that it is no illusion but the real thing. Thus, I am arguing that the epistemological foundation of evolutionary ethics is a kind of moral nonrealism, but that it is an important part of evolutionary ethics that we think it is a kind of moral realism.”

via From The Nature of Nature – Ethics as illusion put in place by natural selection? | Uncommon Descent

9 thoughts on “Darwinist philosopher says ethics are an illusion”

  1. “Ethics is an illusion put in place by natural selection to make us good cooperators.”

    I don’t see how natural selection could but anything in place. Natural selection is not a thing, it is a term.

    It seems to me that as evolution occured, indiviuals with no ethics would eliminate those with ethics before they could form groups.
    I would be interested in how natural selection could work like this.


  2. I have never met a Darwinian willing to accept the ramifications of his worldview. On the contrary, they are often some of the most self-righteous people I’ve ever met-in the true sense of self righteousness- not reluctant in the least to impose their visions and dreams of some meaningless utopian existence onto their neighbors and in deed the whole world, in the name of morality. In the Wright/Dawkins debate you posted, this fact was totally lost on him. Dawkins seemed simply unwilling or unable to accept the premise that this evidently thoughtful philosopher is courageous enough to admit, that if they are right in their beliefs about our existence, then morality is an ultimately meaningless word.


    1. I ordered a copy of the book, it is used so I only blew 10 bucks.

      I doubt that I will be convinced, but I might need to talk about it with college students sometime.


  3. Ethics is an illusion? Great! Now I can steal with reckless abandon if not total impunity. To think I wasted all those years adhering to an illusion! How embarassing on my part!


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