Biologists are claiming that social behaviors in animals, say primates, are precursors of human morality. So if morality grows out of social behavior rules and is shaped by evolution, then maybe biologists, and not philosophers or theologians should say what these rules are. A very good article by Nicolas Wade in the New York Times entitled "Scientists find the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior" highlights some of the debate going on in Academia on this subject between philosophers and biologists.
Dr De Waal, the director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, says that empathy, the ability to learn and follow social rules, reciprocity and peacemaking are the basis of sociality. He claims that the difference between primates and humans, is that human morality has two extra layers of sophistication: people enforce moral codes more rigorously (rewards, punishment and reputation building), and humans apply judgement and reasoning. Notions such as rights and justice and fine ethical distinctions are totally in the human world. Another academic added that religion would also be a differentiator, as there is no trace of this in the animal world.
Well is is great to see the interdisciplinary discussions. But if human ethical behavior vs animal sociality is defined as concious reasoning vs emotions then I see some problems as we move to a "real time" society, where often there is no time for reasoning (think about live TV coverage of conflict zones), and instant decisions are based on individual emotions. So does that make us regress to animal level (if there is such thing as a hirarchy)? Or can we internalize ethical considerations into the decision process by education - thus influencing our emotional response when the time comes?