The Evolution and Exaptation of Group Morals
Ayala defines moral or ethical behavior as “the actions of a person who takes into account in a sympathetic way the impact the actions have on others.” While philosophers and biologists have long debated whether the origins of morality are cultural or biological, respectively, Ayala argues that it’s actually a combination of both. He sees morality as consisting of two parts: the capacity for ethics and the specific moral codes that we follow. He proposes that, while ethical capacity is a product of biological evolution, moral codes are products of cultural evolution. This more complex theory of morality’s origins is very similar to Darwin’s perspective.
Many biologists, including sociobiologists, argue that morality is a biologically determined trait, Ayala told physorg.com. Most philosophers and theologians see morality as a product of cultural evolution and/or religious faith. I distinguish between the capacity for ethics, which is biologically determined as a result of biological evolution; and the moral codes or ethical norms, which are largely outcomes of cultural evolution, including religious beliefs.