Evolution of Ethics
An Introduction to Cybernetic Ethics
Notes on Kantian and Utilitarian Ethics in an Evolutionary Perspective
Reasoning ethics from an evolutionary standpoint can resolve some of the conflicts between the ideas of utilitarianism and the ideas of Immanuel Kant. An important reason the two cannot produce an acceptable outcome to ethical theory is because they both presume ideas work best in the same time and space. Ethical evolution is a "process" that will continue extend out over thousands of years as the world slowly becomes a civilization. From the dawn of the contemporary civilization ethical practices have slowly evolved from red tooth and claw Darwinianism to what might be termed enlightened tooth and claw Darwinianism and there is a long way to go. There are many reasons why the principled ethics of Immanuel Kant will take time to emerge in the world. If one addresses the realities of life and survival even in the twentieth century there is some cause and reason to consider the utilitarian choice in some instances. The basic conflict here is between the practice of ethics grounded in principle rather than ethical practices evolving from prudence. For example, it is in the interest of businessmen to act ethically because it is good for business and creates the image of a reputable business. Here the business person is seen as not so much a principled being rather a cunning and calculating business owner. So, Kant sees a transcendent component to ethical behavior that must be met before a person could be considered ethical. One must be virtuous yet in the real world of interpersonal relationships and commerce being too virtuous can work against ones own interest in very damaging ways. Evolutionary ethics not only brings greater meaning from the Kantian viewpoint but also from the Unitarian's. Using business ethics as a foundation for explanation works here. For example, "From a business perspective, civilization-building is an evolutionary process; a self-organizing, bootstrapping process, It starts out rough and raw, mean and unfair and slowly evolves in the direction of something principled and enduring. Virtue is the long-termed desired result but it perhaps should not come at the price of destroying a business that later could become virtuous and principled."
See www.businessethics.net/business_philosophy for more perspective on these thoughts.