De-moralization as emancipation: Liberty, progress, and the evolution of invalid moral norms

Allen Buchanan, Russell Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Liberal thinkers of the Enlightenment understood that surplus moral constraints, imposed by invalid moral norms, are a serious limitation on liberty. They also recognized that overcoming surplus moral constraints - what we call proper demoralization - is an important dimension of moral progress. Contemporary philosophical theorists of liberty have largely neglected the threat that surplus moral constraints pose to liberty and the importance of proper de-moralization for human emancipation. This essay examines the phenomena of surplus moral constraints and proper de-moralization, utilizing insights from biological and cultural evolutionary thinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-135
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Philosophy and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • De-moralization
  • Environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA)
  • Evolution
  • Invalid moral norms
  • Moral progress
  • Social experimentation
  • Surplus moral constraints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'De-moralization as emancipation: Liberty, progress, and the evolution of invalid moral norms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this