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From Biology, Morality

The Biology of Moral Systems. Richard D. Alexander. Aldine Publishing Co., Hawthorne, NY, 1987. 301 pp. $34.95 HB, $16.95 PB. Richard Alexander, a distinguished sociobiologist with a substantial record of research accomplishments, believes that the foundations of human morality lie in evolutionary biology. In The Biology of Moral Systems, he takes issue with the moral philosophers and theologians who ignore it. Not only have our bodies been shaped by evolutionary forces; our minds and souls hav

Susan Lees
The Biology of Moral Systems. Richard D. Alexander. Aldine Publishing Co., Hawthorne, NY, 1987. 301 pp. $34.95 HB, $16.95 PB.


Richard Alexander, a distinguished sociobiologist with a substantial record of research accomplishments, believes that the foundations of human morality lie in evolutionary biology. In The Biology of Moral Systems, he takes issue with the moral philosophers and theologians who ignore it. Not only have our bodies been shaped by evolutionary forces; our minds and souls have as well. With the requisite number of caveats about the errors of biological determinism, Alexander seeks to dispel the "mystery" of moral issues by taking a bio-evolutionary approach.

The book, a sequel to Alexander's Darwinism and Human Affairs, opens with a useful review of sociobiological theory, which is interlaced with responses to various critics. Some of the very traits that make us good reproducers later turn out to have deleterious effects, but these...

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