The Demands of Impartiality and the Evolution of Morality

Gerald F. Gaus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter argues that Kantian-inspired conceptions of morality must embrace significant parts of an evolutionary view of ethics. According to one sort of Kantian, to respect others as free and equal persons requires that the moral demands made on them are uniquely justified from the impartial perspective. It is argued that under conditions of evaluative pluralism, this idea of impartial reflection is indeterminate. Rational reflection can narrow the field, but actual interactions of good-willed people are needed to fill in the large gaps, and give us a morality that we all can will. Morality is properly seen as consisting of self-imposed requirements verified from the impartial perspective and as having a history that is path-dependent. Indeed, only an evolved morality can be justified to everyone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPartiality and Impartiality
Subtitle of host publicationMorality, Special Relationships, and the Wider World
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191595233
ISBN (Print)9780199579952
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Evolution
  • Impartiality
  • Kantian ethics
  • Public reason

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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