Evolved Dispositions and the Perspective of the Other: A Fundamental Challenge to Ethics in a Globalized World

By Charles Whitmer Wright.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social theorists concerned with the management of fundamental cultural differences in an increasingly pluralistic world often suggest that perspective taking is a mechanism that will allow individuals from different cultural backgrounds to construct bridges across incompatible social and ethical expectations.

The evolutionary history of the human species poses a significant challenge for such ideas. Mainstream biological accounts of the evolution of social cooperation among human beings lead to two main conclusions: (a)capacities for perspective taking will be preferentially directed toward close relatives, friends & allies, and members of small face to face communities, and (b) the evolved psychology of human beings will dispose them to resist taking the perspective of ethical strangers.

Any endeavor to foster cooperation by means of reciprocal perspective taking among ethical strangers will have to contend with this evolved propensity.

Keywords: Natural Selection, Social Cooperation, Perspective Taking, Evolved Psychology, Ethical Strangers

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.141-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.207MB).

Prof. Charles Whitmer Wright

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, St. John’s University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA

Bachelor's in Philosophy (1984) from Haverford College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Master's (1990) and Ph.D. (1996) in Philosophy from State University of New York in Stony Brook, New York, U.S.A. Interested in the implications of evolutionary theories of social cooperation and research in social psychology for moral and political philosophy.

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