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Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress

by Peter Singer Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
05/2011
ISBN:
9780691150697
Format:
Pbk 232 pages
Price:
AU$39.99 NZ$41.73
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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What is ethics? Where do moral standards come from? Are they based on emotions, reason, or some innate sense of right and wrong? For many scientists, the key lies entirely in biology--especially in Darwinian theories of evolution and self-preservation. But if evolution is a struggle for survival, why are we still capable of altruism?

In his classic study The Expanding Circle, Peter Singer argues that altruism began as a genetically based drive to protect one's kin and community members but has developed into a consciously chosen ethic with an expanding circle of moral concern. Drawing on philosophy and evolutionary psychology, he demonstrates that human ethics cannot be explained by biology alone. Rather, it is our capacity for reasoning that makes moral progress possible. In a new afterword, Singer takes stock of his argument in light of recent research on the evolution of morality.


Preface to the 2011 Edition xi

Preface xv

1 The Origins of Altruism 3

2 The Biological Basis of Ethics 23

3 From Evolution to Ethics? 54

4 Reason 87

5 Reason and Genes 125

6 A New Understanding of Ethics 148

Notes on Sources 175

Afterword to the 2011 Edition 187

Index 205



"Since its first publication in 1981, The Expanding Circle has become one of the most widely influential books in ethics. This revised edition could not be more timely. It is vital reading for anyone who has ever wondered about the nature or objectivity of morality'which is to say, for all of us."'Peter Railton, University of Michigan
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, One World, and, most recently, The Life You Can Save.