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The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  244 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
What is ethics? Where do moral standards come from? Are they based on emotions, reason, or some innate sense of right and wrong? For many scientists, the key lies entirely in biology--especially in Darwinian theories of evolution and self-preservation. But if evolution is a struggle for survival, why are we still capable of altruism?

In his classic study The Expanding Circl
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ebook, 232 pages
Published April 18th 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published 1981)
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Mohamed al-Jamri
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
هذا هو أحد أفضل الكتب التي قرأتها موخرًا، وهو من الأسباب التي تجعلني سعيدًا لامتلاكي جهاز الكندل مؤخرًا، حيث أردت قراءته لفترة طويلة ولكن لم استطع ذلك بسبب عدم وجود نسخة مسموعة مجانية.

يتطرق الكتاب للنتائج الأخلاقية المترتبة على معرفتنا للأصول البيولوجية للأخلاق كما وضعها عالم البيولوجيا التطورية إدوارد ويلسون في كتابه البيولوجيا الاجتماعية (سوشيوبيولوجي) والتي صارت تعرف بعلم النفس التطوري في ما بعد. الرائع في هذا الكتاب هو أن الكاتب فيلسوف، ولذلك فهو يتجنب ارتكاب الأخطاء الفلسفية التي يرتكبها ال
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Tom
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars. I had initially planned on giving this book a slightly lower rating, mostly due to two factors: Singer's strong commitment to the fact/value distinction and the ambivalence he displays in regards to objective normative truths. In the new afterword to the edition I have, he now repudiates the latter view, which is a move I welcome. However, he doesn't mention that values may be just a special class of facts, and I think admitting the existence of objective normative truths entails th ...more
Miles
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intelligent, highly-readable piece of philosophy that, for the most part, is still relevant to modern discussions about the tension between biology and ethics. Written as a direct response to E.O. Wilson's texts Sociobiology and On Human Nature, this book is a good primer for anyone interested in the longstanding debate concerning whether we ought to look to science or philosophy to resolve our deepest moral quandaries. Like any balanced author, Singer proposes a hybrid approach: we n ...more
Aseem Kaul
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating exploration of the relationship between ethics and science, especially sociobiology. Singer argues that certain kinds of altruism - kin, reciprocal, even group - may result in an evolutionary advantage, so that these traits may come to be strongly coded in our genes. The fact that these forms of altruism are 'natural' however, does not, by itself make them ethical (Singer is especially good, in Chapter 3, on drawing a distinction between the ability of science to understand and pre ...more
Derek Ouyang
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent introduction to the ethical system of universal well-being. One of the best ideas Singer presents here is that science is the fulcrum upon which reason exerts leverage on ethics. You can find the full text on a quick Google search and I would highly recommend you read this as a foundation for ethical reasoning.
Vicci
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting analysis on the connect between evolution and ethics and does a good job of arguing that evolution and biology cannot explain everything about morality largely because of the is/ought distinction which most students of philosophy will already have come across. As usual it's written in Peter Singer's accessible style and doesn't take an age to get through. To me this book felt a little broad, but it's a good introduction to the topic.
Otto Lehto
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Singer's book feels strikingly contemporary in 2017, as other reviewers have also pointed out.

The "expanding circle" is a wonderful metaphor of how we can improve our ethical rules by being more inclusive in who we include in our moral calculations. And it also makes for a wonderful book, which provides plenty of interesting arguments in defence of the (careful and conservative) integration of the insights of evolutionary psychology and sociobiology into moral philosophy. Singer's book came out
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Rainier Moreno-Lacalle
I learned from this book that I tend not to help "abstract" people because they were not part of my inner circle. For the reason pulled from an evolutionary survival standpoint. I've been puzzled by people seeming nonchalance to other's suffering for long, giving m sleepless nights even before. This is a work of art and a science!
Kenneth Mai
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Woot woot. Finished a book in one day. Have not done that in spook long. :]

With that out of the way, I will begin by stating the obvious: Singer's arguments sound extremely modern and pertinent...so much so that I was shocked when I realized that thirty years had passed since the initial publication of this book. Of course, the afterward was really helpful in reminding me of developments that I am slightly knowledgeable of, but didn't think of whilst reading the piece itself. Otherwise, stunning
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Andrew Murano
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics
Singer's thesis is ridiculous. There's no denying the West has become considerably more just since the Enlightenment, but his rationale, that it has been because of "our (occidental) capacity to reason" is eurocentric nonsense. Our (human) capacity to reason has always been there, often to a much greater degree. He mentions how the Golden Rule has been a part of every Oriental and Occidental society, but fails to mention the same concept of reciprocity has also been part of many, if not all indi ...more
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Social Identity theory and Peter Singer's 'Circle'? 2 13 Oct 30, 2012 03:53AM  
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Peter Albert David Singer is an Australian philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. He specializes in applied ethics, approaching ethical issues from a secular preference utilitarian perspective.

He has served, on two occasions, as chair of phil
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More about Peter Singer...
“Cheats prosper until there are enough who bear grudges against them to make sure they do not prosper.” 9 likes
“Whether particular people with the capacity to take an objective point of view actually do take this objective viewpoint into account when they act will depend on the strength of their desire to avoid inconsistency between the way they reason publicly and the way they act.” 1 likes
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