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(generated from captions) even underarm these guyies can

bowl some high speeds,

sometimes up to 80km/h. So how

do they know if they're bowling

on target? The bowler has to

guess where the wicket is by

listening to the voice of the

wicketkeeper dhai. Call out the

bowler's name three times. David, David,

David. It's by this sound that

the bowlers get their aim then

the bowler has to shout

ready. Ready. So the bats man

knows the ball is about to

come. When it comes to batting,

the technique is slightly

different. Most don't stand up

straight. Instead they play a

sweep shot like this. That's

because the ball travel s lower

along the ground with little

bounce. It's easier to hit the

ball if you keep your bat flat

and close to the ground.

Because the players are blind,

they have to rely on sound to

know where the ball is and

that's why this thing has some

key differences. The ball is

made from hard plastic and

although it might look like a

normal ball, the key is what's

inside. Inside of ball

bearings which rattle against

the plastic so the players know

exactly where the pall bawl is.

The rattle of the ball is also

important when it comes to

fielding because the players

track the ball by its sound.

Once the fielder has it in his

hand 2, bowler or wicketkeeper

yells out and the fielder uses

their voice to guess the

location of the stump an at

this level it's amazing how

Akermanis erate they can

be. Most of the player very

blind for a long time so

they've developed really good

sense of where things are based

on sound. So for a beginner like me it was never going to

be easy. I put on some special

glasses to I couldn't see.

He's got me. After a while

and with some coaching from one

of Australia's star players, I

started to improve by listening carefully and getting the

timing right. The Aussie team

are currently one of the best,

ranked nourtd the world and are

hoping to make up some ground

on countries like Pakistan. It

might not be long before

Australia's blind cricketers

are the neksz team to bring a

World Cup home. And that's it

for today. Don't forget to look

info on to your website and get more

info about any of our stories.

You can send us your comments

and tell us what you think in

our poll. See you next time. Closed Captions by CSI This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there, welcome to Big Ideas, On the show today - help us understand ethics? Does knowing about evolution evolved over time, Our moral sense may have but it's probably not wise determine reproductive fitness to expect the behaviours that

can also direct our moral compass. philosopher Peter Singer World-renowned Australian to get to know human nature better. believes that evolution can help us valuable clues And he says it can give us change people's behaviour. as to what is or isn't likely to So I am going to talk to you about to understand ethics? does understanding evolution help us That's a large and wide ranging topic a couple of fairly simple ideas, and I want to start off by rejecting about this topic. misconceptions, that people have had perhaps be obvious And that for some of you this will that you already know, and rather dull stuff before I run out of time - but I will get - recent work that has been done to some of the more interesting ethics, in actually trying to understand from evolution using insights obtained what they tell us and the debate about judgements we make - about the nature of the moral they are in some sense true or false, whether we can claim that or rational or irrational. or right or wrong, might have some impact And whether in fact that we make. on some particular judgements to some of the misconceptions So let me then go back, as I say, published The Origin of Species which started as soon as Darwin just over 150 years ago. In fact, there is a letter Charles Lyell that Darwin wrote to his friend that appeared of the book in which he refers to a review the idea that might is right' which said that the book 'justified and every tradesman who cheats and therefore justified Napoleon a cynical argument, if you like, that it was, in fact, making for this might is right idea. a very long way philosophically Which of course, goes back and Plato's Republic. back to the ancient Greeks what evolution does That conception of widespread in some circles. is one that has been fairly by John D Rockefeller - It was used for example the Rockefeller dynasty, the founder of of monopoly capitalism the representative, if you like, the founder of Standard Oil Company - fact that in the capitalist system who used the idea to justify the to fall by the wayside. the weak are going leads to the survival of the fittest And the idea then is that evolution and that this is a good thing there are many who don't make it. even if it means that attack social welfare systems And from that it was used to contrary to evolution as in some way being systems help the weak to survive - because after all social welfare they don't fall by the way-side if you had no kind of social welfare, to the extent that they would for those who are unemployed no social support no health care for them. or in poverty, a global level to defend the idea And it's also been used at to help those in other countries that we don't have an obligation who are much poorer than we are. the most important of the myths So this is what, I guess, of evolution that come out of the idea it has this message that it has in some way is good that the survival of the fittest

in being ruthless and therefore we are justified not so successful, who don't make it. towards those that are as Darwin himself was clearly aware, And that's a misconception right from the beginning. in Darwin's Theory of Evolution Because there is nothing purpose or direction in evolution. that says that there is a moral It describes a process. process is a good one. It doesn't say this is a better one. It doesn't say the goal of the fittest' might say, well, Although the phrase 'the survival 'those who are fit are better than those who are not fit.' But fit for what, really? In fact it just means fit for surviving in the circumstances in which they are. So, it's important to understand this - that it is a description not an evaluation. And the fallacy of drawing an ethical conclusion from it is a very common fallacy which anyone who has done a course in ethics will have had some discussion of - it's the fallacy of trying to draw values out of facts or trying to draw an 'ought' out of a series of statements that are descriptive statements where there is just an 'is.' This is a point made by David Hume more than a hundred years before Darwin when he remarked upon the fact that in many moral arguments that he had read people make a whole series of statements connected with 'is'

such as 'perhaps there is a God' and something of that sort. But evolution would also be a series of statements where you say 'this is the case.' And then Hume says, suddenly out of these series of 'is' statements you get statements where something 'ought' to be the case. And it needs to be explained

how this apparently miraculous thing has happened that you get something in the conclusion that is not in the premises. And I think Hume was right about that, right to say there is something mysterious going on would need to be explained, perhaps it simply can't be done. Although by the end of this talk I'll suggest certainly some impacts that understanding evolution can have on what moral judgements we make but the idea that you can simply somehow infer a moral judgement out of something that is purely descriptive, I think Hume was right to say, that can't be done. There is no such inference. So, that is one misconception. The second misconception I want to talk about is a little different. It's a misconception about what evolution tells us about human nature that has also had some ethical significance. Many people get the idea of the struggle for survival, the survival of the fittest. Sometimes they link this in with a phrase of - 'nature, red in tooth and claw',

which is actually not from Darwin at all, but from Tennyson, the poet. The idea that what evolution tells us is that the whole of life leading up to us is a ruthless struggle for survival, and in that struggle, those who are altruists are not gonna do as well as those who are egoists, who are thinking of their own interests. And from that you might conclude - some followers of evolutionary theory have concluded - that really, altruism is a mirage, it doesn't really exist. People may pretend to be altruistic about things, but it is a pretense, a veneer,

they want to get some benefit from it, they're not really being altruistic, if you go deeper into it. And from that, the conclusion might be drawn - so, therefore you'd really be a fool to be altruistic. You'd be very odd, you'd be going against your own nature as it has evolved. And this is sometimes used as an argument to say there's no point in trying to appeal to people's altruism. As, for example, I do in some of my work, my most recent book, that I've authored, anyway, The Life You Can Save, I talk about global poverty, I talk about how we can, relatively easily,

do things that make a huge difference to the lives of people in developing countries,

who are living in extreme poverty, and how we ought to do this. And the line of argument that I'm talking about flowing out of AN understanding of evolution - a misunderstanding, as I think it is - suggests, well, really, there's no point in appealing to people to be altruists, they're not gonna do it, you have to appeal to their interests in some way, and if it's not in their interests to help the poor, they're not going to do it. This is a misunderstanding of evolutionary theory in a different way. It, I think, has too narrow a view of what is in someone's evolutionary interests. It thinks that - I mean, it does say something it starts with something that is true, and that is this - every one of us is descended from a very large number of generations of people who, firstly, managed to survive to reproductive age, and secondly, managed to reproduce, and thirdly, presumably at least, helped their children to get to the age where they could survive independently. Basically, yes, people had to think enough of their own interests, in order to survive, and in order to have children. That's roughly right, it's not actually completely right.

The reason it's not completely right is this - evolution is about the passing on of genes, and you don't only pass on your gene type through your children. You might, for example, pass on genes very like yours, if you sacrifice your own life to save some of your siblings, some of your brothers and sisters, who have genes like yours, who share - you know, whose genes are 50% like yours. Or you might save some nieces or nephews, or something like that, who also share your genes to some extent. So, you can pass on your gene type without actually reproducing and having children.

So that's part of it. I think altruism is not just for our children but can extend more broadly. Still, you might say, that's rather narrow. It's still only extending to those who are part of your immediate kin group. The other thing that I think is wrong with this problem - or one other thing, there's a couple - is that surviving and reproducing is not just a matter of self-interest in the narrow sense.

One thing that's very important for humans to survive is to cooperate with others. We are a social animal, we don't live alone. And forming strong, reciprocal relationships can be an enormous asset, and that's true not only of humans, but we see it in our close non-human relatives. We see it in other primates, in other social animals, mammals, to some extent, but particularly in primates and great apes, that they form reciprocal relationships, and that helps them to survive in various ways. If you're a chimpanzee and you get lice in your fur on your back you can't pick it out but another chimpanzee can do it. And they do, they spend a lot of time grooming each other. But they expect, if they've groomed another chimpanzee, they expect to be groomed by that chimpanzee in turn. You scratch your back -

sorry, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. We do the same sort of thing. So, building reciprocal relationships can be very important as a survival tool. And if you are going into reciprocal relationships, you want to be able to trust the partner that you're going into this relationship with. You don't want them - you don't want to spend time grooming them and then they're going to run away and not groom you. And since we're even more long-term than that - we want long-term partnerships and long-term relationships and long-term friendships, we want to be able to trust people that if we do important things for them at some cost to ourselves, they'll do that for us. So we develop and assessment of character - are people trustworthy? And those are the people that we like to be with and associate with and be friends with. And that, I think, creates an evolutionary incentive to actually be trustworthy. Though, you might say, well, you don't have to actually be trustworthy you just have to be able to fake it. If you can fake it well enough it will have the same effect. But there's something like an arms race going on here, we get better at detecting the fakes, maybe the fakes get better, but one way to make sure that you are genuine, that you are going to be taken as trustworthy, is really to be trustworthy in what you do. So, I think that you can see how some ethical ideas and some ethical principles can get into evolution. It's not just a matter of ruthlessly thinking of yourself, if you actually do think of others and do care about others They'll be more prepared, readier, to care about you. And arguably, something like that happens at a group level too. Humans have lived most of their existence in quite small, face-to-face societies, groups of maybe 150 people, where you know everybody and you can remember whether they're the people who do nice things to you or the people who do nasty things to you. And you can treat them appropriately. So, we build up these senses of justice and what do people deserve, what have they done. And we build up this sense, perhaps, of some sort of commitment to the group as a whole, if we're a small group like that, that provides a foundation for a lot of the ethical judgements

that we think are important. Now, I also think that there's more to it than that.

The argument that I've been making so far has really just been talking about the kinds of reciprocal relationships that, as I said, our close relatives, other great apes, can have. And some sense, maybe, of some sort of group commitment. But clearly we are also rational beings who are able to think and communicate at a level that, to the best of our knowledge, no non-human animal can do. I'm not saying there isn't some capacity to reason in non-human animals - I think there is - and there are all kinds of ways of communicating that non-human animals have, some of which we're only just beginning to learn about. But all the same, I think it is true that this kind of more abstract communication in a complex language of the sort we have that can convey abstract ideas, the kind of thing that I hope I'm communicating to you now, is something that, at least on this planet, is unique to our species. We certainly have no evidence of that occurring in other species. So I think that makes a difference, too. That makes a difference in terms of the way we can think about others and actually discuss ethical principles and moral principles. So we then perhaps get some arguments developing about well, you know, I did this for you but you're not doing this for me. Is that fair? That's something that leads to discussions about the nature of ethics.

I don't think that the concept of fairness actually is unique to humans.

And some rudimentary notion of fairness I think we can see in non-human animals. Frans de Waal, who has done a lot of research with primates, for example, has shown that capuchin monkeys are ready to perform certain tasks for a reward. And if the standard reward is a food pellet, they'll perform those tasks for the reward of a food pellet and they'll happily accept the food pellet. However, if they observe another similar monkey doing exactly the same tasks

and getting rewarded with something that is preferred to the food pellet, let's say a grape, which is considered by the monkeys tastier and better than one of those boring old food pellets - if you then ask the monkey to perform the same task for which he's just seen the other monkey get rewarded with a grape and you try and reward him with a food pellet, you're likely to get it thrown back at you. So, there's a sense that somehow there's something wrong going on here. Exactly how we interpret that result is not so easy to say but there is a sense that something wrong's going on. De Waal has another interesting example of chimpanzees living together, not, in this case - this is just an observation rather than a set up experiment.

Chimpanzees, when they live together, sometimes have fights and sometimes they form alliances to resist a stronger chimpanzee. So, in one case he observed a chimpanzee being attacked by a stronger chimpanzee signalling to another chimpanzee to come and help. And the other chimpanzee did come and help and together the two of them then fought off the stronger chimpanzee. A little later, the stronger chimpanzee attacked the chimpanzee that had helped who was by himself now. And the chimpanzee who had helped signalled to the one whom he had helped in the same way, as if to say come and help me fight off this guy. But the chimpanzee didn't reciprocate, didn't help. When the fight was over, the chimpanzee went and attacked the one who had failed to help as if to say, 'That wasn't fair. I did it for you but you're not doing it for me.' So, I think there is that sense of fairness that has evolved because of the importance of these reciprocal relationships and because we don't want to be cheated in a reciprocal relationship. And that's effectively what's going on. But we humans, of course, can take this concept and have arguments about it at a much more sophisticated level than animals which can't have that kind of communication. And that's, I think, a really important difference which leads to the development of ethics and why we can't simply understand ethics in those simple evolutionary terms that we might understand the notions that the great apes, for example, have. But, I do think that quite a lot of our ethics actually is something that is evolved in that way. Rather than something that is purely a matter of reason or discussion or even of cultural development. And what I now want to do is to say a little about some of the thinking that's been going on - some of the research that's been going on, in trying to understand the nature of ethics

and the way we make moral judgements and what they may have to do with evolution and in what way they might be independent of evolution. So, let me start with a little story that the psychologist Jonathan Haidt -

who is a psychologist at the University of Virginia, who's interested in our moral judgement - uses in a piece of research. He tells the story to - he gets students to take part in this research, and he tells them the following story. He says, Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They're adults. And they happen to be spending a holiday together in a cabin, in a lonely place. And they decide that it would be interesting and fun to have sex. Now, Julie is already on the pill but just to be sure, Mark uses a condom as well. They have sex on this one occasion. They decide they enjoy it. They decide not to do it again. But, it is a special secret between them that has made them feel even closer as brother and sister than they were before. So, after telling that story Jonathan Haidt then asks the student a question which I'll now ask you. Do you think what Julia and Mark did was wrong? it was wrong. OK. Put up your hand if you think it wasn't wrong. Alright, interesting. Relatively even split, I thought there, just taking a quick impression. I've asked this question in the United States and I would say generally, there's a larger preponderance of people who think that it was wrong. And in fact, that's the result that Jonathan Haidt reports.

That the students he asked overwhelmingly say, yes, it's wrong. He then asked them, why is it wrong? And mostly the first thing that they say is 'because if brothers and sisters have' - well, maybe they just say, look, that's incest and that's wrong, but then he says, so, why is incest wrong? Says, well, because if brothers and sisters have children, they'll probably be abnormal. And then he says, yes, but remember that Julie was on the pill and Mark used a condom as well. It's extremely unlikely that they're going to have a child. Virtually impossible, you could say. So, why do you think it's wrong? And then maybe they something like, well, because they'll feel bad about it and hate each other afterwards. And then Haidt says, but remember I told you in the story that they actually felt good about it and were closer than ever. And at some point in this line of questioning the student will simply say, look, I don't know, it's just wrong. So, what's going on here? Haidt suggests - and I think this is a very plausible account here, that what's going on is that when you think about a case of incest - even a case of adult brother and sister incest, so there's no question about a parent exploiting a child or anything like that, which we would have, I'm sure very good reasons to think was wrong.

Whenever you think of any case of incest, people have this yuck reaction. They just instinctively think, that's wrong.

Why would they instinctively think that's wrong? Well, in a sense the students gave the answer to that. It's wrong because it does lead to a higher rate of abnormalities if you have that kind of inbreeding. That at least is why - in evolutionary terms, you would think we would develop this negative reaction. So, Haidt's theory is that we evolve to have certain responses which are innate, they're not just cultural, and those responses lead to that rapid judgement although it cannot be justified by reasons that the students can find. So, his argument is then, that moral judgements are these kind of instinctive, intuitive things that come out of our evolutionary past and reason has very little do with it. In fact, the paper in which this story appears refers to the emotional dog and the rational tail. Right, so, just as when you see a dog wagging its tail, it's not the tail wagging the dog, it's the dog that's wagging the tail. So, it's the emotions that are the dog here, and the tail wag - well, the dog is happy,

so the dog wags it's tail.

The person feels the yuck reaction and so the rational response is and so I must find some reason for why that's wrong. Now, I think that Haidt is probably right in this particular instance. That is, in the case of this judgement of incest. It's a pretty obvious example of why we would, in evolutionary terms, have judgements that lead us to think that incest is wrong, and why that would confer a reproductive advantage on us. Why people who had that reaction would be more likely to have surviving children and therefore, why those who didn't have that reaction would be less likely to reproduce, and why that reaction would become innate - why it would become something biologically part

of our human nature. Haidt thinks that this is the case with most moral judgements,

if not all. I think he's probably not right about that but I do think that there's an interesting question to explore as to which of our moral judgements are like that and which are not. And some of that exploration has been done by another researcher called Joshua Greene who was actually a Princeton philosophy PhD but has since moved into psychology and is now at Harvard. So, Greene is interested in a set of problems that philosophers have talked about -

comes out of his philosophy background, called trolley problems.

The trolley is what we may call here a tram or a train, I guess. It's American terminology. I tend to think of it as a train.

So, the trolley problem arises by considering two cases with a lot of similarity and an important distinction, and asking people whether, again, they think this is right, that this behaviour is right or wrong. So let's try that. Some of you will already know these problems if you've done philosophy. So the trolley problem, in version one, you are standing by a railway line when you see a runaway train, no driver in it, coming down the hill. You look where the train is going,

and you see that the line goes through a tunnel, and there are five workers working in that tunnel. And you know that there's no room for them to escape - if the train goes down that tunnel, all five of them will be killed. There is, however, one way in which you can stop that happening. You are standing by a switch, which will divert the runaway train down a side-branch. On that side-branch, there is one worker working. If you divert the train, he will be killed. But there's nothing else you can do. So, in those circumstances, let me get a show of hands again, in those circumstances, do you think it would be wrong for you to divert the train down the side track. Put up your hand if you think that would be wrong. OK, so we have a small number of hands who think it would be wrong.

How many of you think it would not be wrong? Just to make sure that people are not just abstenting. OK, most of you think it would not be wrong. Alright, that's version one which is known as 'The Switch', because you're pulling a switch. Version two, again there's a runaway train, driverless, Again there's a tunnel with five people who will be killed if the train goes on through the tunnel. But this time, there's no switch and no side-track. Instead, you're standing on a footbridge over the track, the train is coming towards you. You think about whether you could, perhaps, jump onto the track and stop the train, Perhaps even sacrificing your life to stop the train. But you realise that you're very light and you wouldn't stop the train. However, it so happens that standing next to you is a much heavier stranger. If you want to make him really heavy you can say he's wearing a big backpack as well. And he's leaning over this track, watching this train coming down the line. All you have to do is give him a push. One good hard push, he'll fall onto the track and his weight, and his weight with the backpack, will be sufficient to stop the runaway train. He'll be killed, but the five people in the tunnel will not be killed. How many of you think it would be wrong to push the heavy stranger, with his backpack, onto the track. So, many, many more than thought it would be wrong to switch the train. OK, so this was the philosophical puzzle that philosophers Philippa Foot and Judith Jarvis Thomson, for those of you who know the names, have discussed in many articles, and many other philosophers - 'What's the difference here?'. Why is it OK, as most of us think, to throw the switch, but wrong to push the heavy stranger? After all, in both cases, one life is lost and five lives are saved. A net saving for four lives. In both cases. In both cases, all of the people are strangers to you, you don't know anything about them. It's not as if you know that the one on the side-track has a large family and the others are single. You don't know anything like that. So, what's the difference? Well, I won't go into the debate,

but various hypotheses have been put forward to explain the difference. None of them really seem to work. So, Josh Greene, rather than try and justify those reactions,

you just saw exhibited here by most of you, rather than try and say 'Yes, it is much worse to push the stranger' or 'wrong to push the stranger, and it's not wrong to throw the switch'. Instead he said,

'I wonder why people are making this judgement.' And to find out, he used a bit of relatively new technology, that comes out of the medical arena, FMRI imaging. Imaging that takes a real-time image of what's going on in your brain. So, it's harmless, non-intervention, so you can get undergraduates to come and volunteer to be screened, to have FMRI imaging done while you ask them questions. Including questions about what they think would be right or wrong in these trolley sort of situations. And when Greene did that, he got some interesting results. Just as here, most of the people thought that it was OK to divert the train down the side-line. And in doing that, there wasn't very much emotional activity going on in their brain. It was most mostly parts of the brain that are broadly associated with thinking, with cognitive functions. With the footbridge case, with most of the people who answered negatively - 'that's wrong' - as you did, there was quite a lot of activity going on in the parts of the brain we associate with emotions. And not much going on in the cognitive parts of the brain. With the small number of people who said, 'Yes, it would be right to push the stranger', there was some emotional activity too, but there was more cognitive activity. There was more activity in the parts if the brain involved in thinking. So, Greene's hypothesis was that the reaction to the case of pushing the stranger

is one which is more one of these innate, rapid, kind of automatic responses. Like that rapid, automatic response to 'What do you think of a brother and sister having sex?' Something that is evolved. Whereas in the switch case, there wasn't as kind of evolved response. Now, why would that be? Well, there's a fairly obvious explanation. We have evolved, as I said, many generations of beings, who have lived in close proximity with each other, who could harm each other by hands-on physical violence. There's plenty of evidence that humans have, for a long time, used physical violence against each other in various ways. So it's not surprising that we should develop an inhibition against hands-on physical violence of that kind. Those societies that had that inhibition against doing that to each other anyway, maybe did better. Not, of course, that it's complete. Obviously we do fight against others, we do terrible things to people, so it's not that this is a complete barrier, but still, if there's some stranger who's done nothing to you, we have inhibitions about doing hands-on, physical violence to them. There's nothing in our evolutionary history that suggests that we should have any reactions to throwing switches that divert trains down side-tracks. We haven't had switches or trains for long enough to influence our evolution in that kind of sense. So Greene's view was that there is this kind of innate reaction that says 'yuck' to pushing the stranger.

'No, you can't do that'. And that prevents the cognitive functions deciding the issue. Whereas in the switch case, there's no innate response, and so the cognitive functions, the thinking,

can decide the issue. And what do we think? We think, 'Well, save five lives, lose one life, yes, that's worth doing. I don't know anything about these people, they're strangers,

there will be four lives saved, net four lives saved, and that's worth doing.' Now, if Greene is right about that, and there's certainly plenty of scope for debate and there's more research going on about it, but I think the research, as it stands, favours Greene's hypotheses here. If that's true, then we can draw a distinction in our moral thinking and our moral judgements, between those judgements that are evolved and innate in that way, and that exist in us because they were conducive to the survival and reproduction of our forebears - and those judgements that are not there for that reason. Now, what would you do with this distinction, if you can make it? Remember I said right at the beginning, that we can't conclude that evolution somehow is tending in a morally good direction, or is right. And it would equally be a mistake to think that because some judgement is innate in us and is the product of evolution, that judgement is somehow better than another judgement. Sometimes people think a little bit like that, when people hold up something that is natural and say that that is better than something that is artificial,

or made by humans. There's something a little bit like that thinking going on. But I think it's a mistake. In fact, I think here we ought to think the opposite. We ought to think this is judgement that we have only because in many generations of our ancestors, it was conducive to survival.

But perhaps circumstances have changed. Perhaps it's not a judgement that we should be following when we stop and think about it, when we think more carefully about it. Perhaps it's one of those judgements that really is not what we want to commit ourselves to when we reach our own thoughtful, reflective judgement. So, we might say the reasoning that takes account of the consequences, that thinks it's better to save five lives at the cost of one life, than to allow five people to die, in order to prevent one person dying, that kind of thinking that looks at the consequences is our more rational nature. That's us being thoughtful and reflective. The other judgements are us simply taking these intuitions, that are part of our evolutionary history, and taking them for granted as somehow guides to right and wrong when they may not be so. Now, I don't want to say that we should always disregard our intuitive judgements, they often may be a useful guide to things that work well in a society. That, 'this is what human nature is like in some ways,

and sometimes it's going to be difficult to change it in some respects.' But I do think that the fact that we have one of these intuitions, should not be taken as a reliable guide to what's right and what's wrong. And often, I think, we have got past some of those judgements. For example, I think you could argue that some kind of feeling for those who are like you is innate and natural, over those who are not like you. There's been research that shows

that if you show babies faces of people who are like them,

that is, members of the ethnic group, their parents and their family, and faces of people who are of a completely different ethnic group, who look different, they will preferentially go towards those who look like them. So maybe at some level there's a kind of innate racism that leads us to prefer our own kind and that lies behind some of the greatest moral atrocities that have been committed in recent centuries but we know that we can get beyond that, we know that we can maybe not eliminate all racist ideas, thoughts, feelings entirely but that we can have viable, functioning multi-racial societies - we're living in one. We've seen enormous progress in that sort of area. Look at what happened in the American south after the '50s desegregation where people who you would've thought could never live in harmony alongside each other, do live in reasonable peace and harmony alongside each other. So, we can use our reasoning, getting the larger picture, to think that some of these innate ideas are wrong and mistaken and no longer suitable for the times that we're living in. So, this is the way in which I think, the most interesting way, in which evolution can help us to understand ethics. It can actually help us to be more critical of what evolution has made us. It can help us to think more critically of some of those more intuitive rapid judgements that we form. And I think it should lead us as Green's example suggests - to being more consequentialist in our thinking. That is, to taking greater account to the consequences of what we do and being less restricted by some of those intuitive responses that sometimes may prevent us from doing what is going to be the best thing in the circumstances. So if you want my take on the trolley problem - I don't think there is a moral difference

between the two cases really. I can certainly say, I would find it much harder to push the stranger off the bridge, than to throw the switch. Because I'm like all of you - I have this this innate repugnance against doing it. And I'm not sure whether I could do it if I were in that situation. But I do think I would be right to do it, if I were in that situation and if I knew what would happen. And I think I would be just as right and for just the same reasons as I would be right to throw the switch in the switch case rather than the footbridge case. So, I'm coming to the end of the time I was allocated and I want to make sure we have time for questions but let me just give you one more example where I think this can make a difference and it relates to a number of the other things I'm interested in - and that is in extending our moral concerns beyond our own group. I wrote a book many years ago called The Expanding Circle. Which, in fact, Princeton University Press is going to reissue later this year. And it was talking about some of the things that I've talked about today, although of course I couldn't take into account the recent research by Haidt and Greene that I've talked about. But my idea was - that we have expanded the circle of moral concern over the millennia, So that from that small group of 150 or 200 people

that humans mostly lived in, which was concerned for itself, and we know places where that has, until quite recent times, still been the case. I went to New Guinea in the '60s and in the highlands of New Guinea when people told me there that until Europeans came into some of those areas they could not cross the mountain range and walk into the neighbouring valley down the other side of the mountain range, they would have been killed.

Because the morality that they had - and the same would have happened to someone who'd come over the ridge down their side - because the morality they had was that you were concerned about the welfare of the people in your group in your valley,

but the stranger from across the mountain range you could kill with impunity. So we've expanded that to the idea of being concerned for the nation, some larger group. And now in the 20th Century - after watching the horrors that racism caused in Nazi Germany in particular - we adopted the universal declaration of human rights that says we are concerned about all human beings and that we all think they all have basic rights. But that doesn't go far enough, in two respects. Firstly, although we say that, we don't live up to it. Which goes back to what I was saying before -

we don't help the 15 million people who die each year in extreme poverty where we could help them. And we also don't go beyond our own species. Well, maybe we have started to a little bit. But we don't really extend morality fully to other sentient beings who are not human. So I think this clearly also has something to do with we have evolved to prefer those who are like us. And to be very concerned with those who are close to us our kin group, our immediate group but not those who are distant whether geographically distant or member of another species. So we have had an immense amount of coverage recently of course, of the natural disasters in Australia -

the floods of cyclone Yasi - you compare that to the amount of coverage that we'll get for a cyclone that hits, let's say, some part of Latin America or some part of Burma or somewhere of that sort with far more people killed but far less coverage. Now, that's the way we are. I guess the newspaper will say, 'Well, people are more interested in reading about people in their own country who are close to them, and so on.' Yeah, that is the way we are. We recognise that. But I think, ethically, we need to do our best to work beyond that. And that, I think, is one of the lessons of understanding evolution that we understand the idea within us that says we really only need to be concerned about those very close to us is something that may well have helped us and our ancestors to survive and part of the explanation for why we are here is that they were concerned about those who are close to us but that is not a justification of it, it's an explanation of our moral judgements not a justification of them. Thank you, very much. (Applause) Thank you very much, Peter. Just a reminder about procedure for questions. There's a microphone in the central aisle there. If you would like to ask a question, please come up and line up at the microphone and Peter will take questions in order. Do we have any questions? Over to you. OK. Thanks very much. Good evening, Professor, and thank you for your talk. I have two questions. One is what is the role in the quest to excel of human beings in your ideas on evolution and ethics.

Question number one And question number two -

there seems to be a great challenge in terms of dealing with environmental change in the sense that the first world is more willing to reduce the population of the third world rather than make concrete, drastic sacrifices in their lifestyles that would actually make a bigger change a bigger impact at the sooner time. So, those are my two questions. Thank you. OK. So the quest to excel, I guess, could be understood as something that confers an evolutionary advantage. That is, there are advantages in standing out in some ways there can also be dangers, of course. But I suppose for much of our history if you excelled in some skills you were valued in the community and the community would help you more. Regarding the environmental challenges that we face, I think this is an interesting example, interesting application of what I have been talking about. As I said, we have evolved to think that it's very bad, normally bad to do hands on physical violence to people close to us or people we are know are innocent. And yet we have not evolved

to think about the environmental consequences of our lifestyle. There's no, kind of, negative response to the idea of emitting greenhouse gases, for obvious reasons. We didn't know until relatively recently that emitting greenhouse gases was causing harm. So it's something we have not evolved to do and that is one of the reasons why it is so difficult, as your comment suggested, to make the lifestyle changes that are needed if we are to stop causing harm to people who are less able to defend themselves from it than we are. Thank you. Oh, Professor, I would also like to thank you for a most stimulating talk. What do you think about the proposition about the naturalistic fallacy being itself, a fallacy? The naturalistic fallacy being the logical impossibility of passing from an 'is' to an 'ought.' Cannot it be said that both of these statements are really assessments based on past experience and not based on any absolute certainty and the both of these questions rely on the consensus of the people in the community. And that there is a spectrum where there's a greater probability of an 'is' statement being right, than an 'ought' statement being right. If I can have another couple of quick bites...

Ah, look, I think we have quite a few people behind you already. ..sorry... So, if you don't mind, I think we'll try to limit it to one question. Thank you very much. I do think that the naturalistic fallacy is a fallacy I'm one of those - that is, in other words, I think it is a fallacy to try to deduce a moral judgement or a value judgement from facts. It's essentially, well, very close to, anyway, the point when I referred to David Hume as saying you can't get an 'ought' out of a set of 'is' judgements. That does seem to me to be the case. And I wouldn't agree with you that it simply a matter of experience. I think there is a logical problem, as Hume said. We generally accept that at least deductive arguments

the conclusion must in some way be contained in the premises and if there is no 'ought' or values in the premises you are not going to be able to get an 'ought' or value in the conclusion. Philosopher Peter Singer, speaking at The University of Sydney

for Sydney Ideas. That's all from Big Ideas for today.

But don't forget, you can enjoy other ethical dilemmas, debates and panel discussions on our website at the address on your screen. and look out for more Big Ideas on ABC News 24 at 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays. I'm Waleed Aly, see you again. Closed Captions by CSI

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