There have been many genealogies of ethics. Philip Kitcher’s The Ethical Project stands apart in its ability to incorporate the insights of earlier genealogies while avoiding their oversights and mistakes. In this essay, I compare and contrast Kitcher’s genealogy of ethics with two contemporary alternatives, those offered by Frans do Waal and Richard Joyce. Comparing Kitcher’s genealogy with these alternatives makes it easy to highlight his most useful contribution to our understanding of the origin of ethics: the idea of ethics as a social technology. I conclude by identifying an oversight of Kitcher’s own genealogy, a significant way in which the function of ethics-as-a- technology has been transformed from its origin to today.
© 2012 by Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart