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For the last two thousand years, we have made remarkably little progress
in moral philosophy, or its stepchild, jurisprudence, by attacking the field as a
matter of a priori philosophy. Recently, a different approach has begun to be
used, which is to treat morality as an empirical matter subject to scientific
study. I am thinking of the work of Carol Gilligan, or Jim Fishkin's Beyond
Subjective Morality, or Roger Masters' Beyond Relativism, and some of the
work in evolutionary psychology by people like Robin Wright and Matt Ridley.
Much of this literature is summarized and extended in Frans de Waal's
recent book, Good Natured, on the evolutionary basis of morality. These
works all look at what we previously thought of as abstract issues of moral
philosophy as empirical issues of social science.
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