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There is increasing evidence that there is an evolved "moral grammar" in human brains (which in some respects resembles Kantian moral philosophy). My question is, is it possible to have an ethical system that is entirely rational and unreliant on "hardwired" beliefs? Obviously any moral theory that relies on evolution commits the naturalistic fallacy (what helps animals to survive and reproduce has no bearing on what is good and bad). Case in point is utilitarianism, trumpeted as an entirely secular and rational moral philosophy. But why would "anti-utilitarianism"--the ethical theory that prescribes the greatest pain for the greatest number--be, logically speaking, any less valid than utilitarianism? The assumption that pain is bad and pleasure is good appears to be "hardwired" and without rational basis. These questions leave me in some doubt about the viability of moral philosophy, since all moral theories seem to include premises that I have no reason to accept.

You pose one of the great challenges confronting philosophical ethics: explaining the rational basis of morality. If your last claim--that all moral theories include premises you have no reason to accept--is correct, then I don't see how the challenge can be met. A number of philosophers have rejected this claim, however. Kant, for example, suggested that morality is grounded by premises you are rationally bound to accept. According to Kant, simply being a free agent requires you to accept the rational force of certain imperatives, and these imperatives then provide the basis or foundation of your moral obligations. Note that If Kant is correct, what grounds morality is not any biological fact about the ways in which our brains are hardwired. Rather, it is the metaphysical nature of rational agency that lies at the foundation of ethics. Consequently, any rational agent --human or otherwise--will be bound by the same obligations that bind you and me. Of course, it is not at all clear whether...

It would be unbearable to live a life believing that things like beauty, love, knowledge and life don't matter, and any philosophy that claimed it would be completely alien to me. At the same time, looking at altruism in animals and evolution of social behaviour makes it pretty obvious that our instincts and culture for good evolved for practical survival reasons. Surely it is a bit of a stretch to suppose that by fluke we evolved the beliefs and values that precisely match what is really good and really matters? I'm sure this is a pretty standard question that lots of philosophers have asked, so what kind of answers are there, and how can we decide what is really good or ethical?

Does it have to be a fluke that we have evolved in the way you describe? Our perceptual and conceptual apparatuses have evolved such that our perceptual beliefs largely match what is "really out there," and so why should it be a surprise (or a fluke) that our ethical beliefs match what is really good? The point of this question is merely to point out that the fact that we have evolved to think a certain way is not by itself a good reason to reject that way of thinking. That said, your concluding question is a challenging one. How can we decide what is really good or ethical? This question can seem particularly vexing if we think that the laws of morality or the "rules of life" must somehow be "out there" in the world, waiting like the laws of physics to be discovered and understood. But philosophers have long questioned whether values must be "external" in this way in order to be genuine or real. Perhaps our judgments about what matters--about what is valuable or moral or rational--are not...

Why do the laws of morality and the laws of nature seem to be completely opposite one another? For example, most moral codes encourage monogamy while the theory of evolution states the strongest seed should be spread around.

The theory of evolution by means of natural selection is not really a law of nature at all, at least in the sense you suggest. That is, it does not tell us anything about what we should and should not do with "the strongest seed." The theory of evolution is a descriptive theory. It informs us that the offspring of the "fittest" parents are themselves likely to have a survival or selection advantage. But the theory says nothing about how such parents should or ought to behave. No moral conclusions follow immediately from facts about natural selection. You need a second theory--a prescriptive or moral theory--to reach the conclusion that this evolutionary pattern results in a good or just outcome. And so the conflict between the laws of morality and the theory of evolution is only apparent.