CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, November 22, 2021

Patrick on Evolution and Natural Law

Carlton Patrick (University of Central Florida) has posted Evolution is the Source, and the Undoing, of Natural Law (Evolution and Human Behavior (forthcoming - special issue on Evolution and Law)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Research grounded in evolutionary theory holds the promise of explaining our moral intuitions in terms of the fitness benefits they conferred on our ancestors over time. This research suggests a view of morality as a set of reliably developing psychological instincts that are often universal, but not objective in the metaphysical sense. In this paper, I argue that this research may shed new light on the centuries-old debate surrounding natural law. By providing a scientifically plausible explanation for the moral intuitions at the heart of natural law theory, this research both (1) accounts for the emergence and persistence of the belief that a natural law exists, and (2) undermines one of the core tenants of natural law theory: that laws must necessarily give structure to our sense of morality.

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