• altruism;
  • authorizing entities;
  • logic of transition;
  • Michael Ruse;
  • moral obligation;
  • pragmatism;
  • sociobiology

Abstract. The philosopher Michael Ruse accounts for the difference between hypothetical and categorical imperatives, and thus the origin of distinctively moral obligations like that of altruism, in genetic terms. This is part of an attempt to develop a philosophy that takes Darwin seriously by substituting respectable scientific entities, specifically those of evolutionary biology, for suspect theological or philosophical ones, like God or the transcendental ego, as a basis for addressing philosophical questions. Pragmatists take Darwin seriously, but in a very different way from that proposed by Ruse. Darwin introduced a “logic” into the study of living things—including human beings, the human mind, and culture— that leads philosophers to ask new and different questions about morality rather than trying to supply new answers to the same old questions. This essay contrasts these two different ways of taking Darwin seriously for purposes of philosophy and claims certain advantages for the pragmatist way over Ruse's.