Nick Rowe linked to an interesting article on critiques of evolutionary biology, and I think it might have a relationship to emergent rational agents. But first, I think Nick is right to suggest replacing "evolutionary biology" with "economics"; this sentence is golden:
... something about [economics] makes it prone to the championing of ideas that are new but false or unimportant, or true and important, but already well studied under a different branding.
This almost exactly echoes Thomas Palley (via Simon Wren-Lewis) on MMT:
The criticism of MMT is not that it has produced nothing new. The criticism is that MMT is a mix of old and new, the old is correct and well understood, while the new is substantially wrong.
Anyway, there were a couple of quotes that caught my attention regarding morality and evolution:
[For some] natural selection causes problems, not only because it is mindless and amoral, but because it can seem downright immoral. For example, Saunders (2003) writes “there is a further danger, as well. Darwinist explanations inherently invoke selfishness and greed as the most important driving forces”. This isn’t true, and even Darwin’s own emphasis on “struggle” probably rests on a mistake (Lewens 2010), but there is a very weak sense in which natural selection involves competition, and there is a lot of research on “conflicts”.
While naturalistic, the theories superficially resemble a transcendental account of value (they provide criteria for judging behaviours as better or worse, without reference to anybody’s attitudes), but the values that they superficially endorse are unattractive (the imaginary motives of the imaginary agents are generally base), and in some accounts, the imaginary agents are not even humans. Anxieties can be real, even if they are baseless, and the aims of these critics are best viewed as therapeutic.
Pointing out the amorality of evolution and evolutionary agents is perfectly in line with the critique (e.g. here or here) that "Homo economicus" is totally unlike Homo sapiens in the sense that we are more cooperative or generous (more "moral") than the rational agents used in economic models. In evolution, we have the agents of evolution such as unicellular organisms or even genes acquiring (im)moral agendas despite the fact that they are incapable of actually having a moral philosophy.
We might instead view this the "agenda" of evolution as emergent from random exploration of the state space in the same way that selfish H. economicus can possibly emerge from exploration of the economic state space by perfectly moral H. sapiens or even C. capucinus. There are additional parallels in the concepts of evolutionary "fitness" and economic "efficiency" (optimality) that also could emerge from exploration of the state space.
The key point is that there is no reason to assume that human morality or the amorality of a strand of DNA won't give rise to an emergent immoral, but correct, theory at the macro scale. We might intuitively view optimizing behavior as selfishness, but there is no reason to apply that judgement to the substrate. That economics is understood in terms of emergent selfish agents does not mean humans are selfish ‒ or more importantly should be selfish ‒ anymore than we should ascribe moral theories to collections of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen atoms in a strand of DNA.
PS While we may observe some process at the macro scale (like evolution, or macroeconomic fluctuations), we cannot be certain about (or more precisely, come up with a meaningful definition of) the underlying level of agents responsible for that process. Ascribing the unit of evolution to organisms (e.g. Darwin), genes (e.g. Dawkins), groups, or at multiple levels (e.g. Wilson) becomes something of a Sorites paradox. There is no "evolution" except at the macro scale ‒ agents just have behaviors of varying complexity. Likewise, there is no "recession" except at the macro scale ‒ agents just have behaviors of varying complexity.