Chapter 1: The Evolutionary View of Human Nature
1. 1. The evolutionary view of human nature SOME PROBLEMS WITH RECONSTRUCTING THE EVOLUTIONARY VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE Evolutionary theory can be helpful in the analysis of legal-philosophical problems via the view of human nature it implies. The first task to be tackled, then, is to reconstruct this view. The realization of this task, however, encounters two serious difficulties. The first difficulty is that the notion of human nature is extremely vague, as it can be defined according to a plethora of various criteria. For instance, one can define it as an answer to one of the following questions: what is a collection of features universally shared by all human beings; what are the highest excellences (moral and/or intellectual) that human beings can achieve (though it may be so that most human beings fail to achieve these excellences); what are the ultimate potentialities and ultimate limitations of human nature; what, if anything, essentially distinguishes human beings from animals? Accordingly, it will ultimately depend on the purpose of one’s analysis which one of this kind of questions is chosen as a criterion for defining human nature. Given the purpose of the analyses pursued in this book, which is to provide ‘evolutionary’ answers to the questions defining the notion of a legal-philosophical current, I think that the most appropriate criterion for defining human nature boils down to two questions: what is the dominant moral motive standing behind our actions; what is the dominant mode of our actions. A classification grounded on this...
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