David Hume prevented us from deriving normative sentences —like moral sentences — from factual sentences —like descriptions of the natural compounds of any species. Moral philosophers use Hume’s statement to disregard what could be called “naturalistic ethics”. The main field of conflict would be moral explanations derived from Darwinian thought. In spite of sociobiological models, the lack of any genetic determination in human morals beyond the human “capacity to reach ethical judgements” is widely supported at present. Nevertheless, it seems interesting to ask whether we could go further than this current point of view. In the affirmative case, phylogeny would have been responsible for the evolution of moral contents, not just of the human capacity for ethical judgments. A universal value could be the tendency to identify “good” or “fair” with those actions that favor all members of a group, rather than only a part of it. An interesting question is which brain circuits act when we perform such moral judgements. Another interesting question would be whether other primates have some capacity to judge in an ethical or almost-ethical way.
Camilo J. Cela-Conde has been Senior Professor at the University of the Balearic Islands (1982— ), where he is also the Director of the Laboratory of Human Systematics. He obtained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 1978. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (Biology). Selected Publications (1998) The hominid evolutionary journey: A summary. In: Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Russell RJ, Ayala FJ, Stoeger WR, SJ, eds.), 59-78. Vatican City State and Berkeley: Vatican Observatory and Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. (with G Marty) (1998) Beyond biological evolution: Mind, morals and culture. In: Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Russell RJ, Ayala F, Stoeger WR, SJ, eds), 445-456. Vatican City State and Berkeley: Vatican Observatory and Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. (1998) The problem of hominoid systematics, and some suggestions for solving it. South African Journal of Science, 94: 255-262. (1998) The meaning of Hominidae. Human Evolution 13: 251-264. (with JH Schwartz and M Collard) (2001) Systematics of “Humankind”. Evolutionary Anthropology 10 :1-3. (2001) Hominid taxon and systematics of the Hominoidea. In: Humanity from African Naissance to Coming Millennia (Tobias PV, Raath MA, Moggi-Cecchi J, Doyle GA, eds), 271-278. Firenze UP. (with CR Altaba) (2002) Multiplying genera versus moving species: A new taxonomic proposal for the family Hominidae. South African Journal of Science 98: 229-232. (with G Marty, E Munar, M Nadal, and L Burges) (2002). The “style scheme” grounds artistic experience. Perceptual and Motor Skills 95: 91-100. (with E Marty,E Munar, M Rosselló, M Roca, and JT Escudero (2003) Dimensión factorial de la experiencia estética. Psicothema 15: 478-483. (with FJ Ayala) (2003). Genera of the human lineage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100: 7684-7689. (with G Marty, F Maestú, T Ortiz, E Munar, A Fernández, M Roca, J Rosselló, and F Quesney (2004) Activation of the prefrontal cortex in the human visual aesthetic perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 101: 6321-6325. (with VM Eguíluz, MG Zimmermann,and M San Miguel) (2005) Cooperation and emergence of role differentiation in the dynamics of social networks. American Journal of Sociology 110: 977-1008.