Evolution of Innate Morality

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by Neil Godfrey

Rosa Rubicondior blog discusses the New Scientist article, Monkeys and dogs judge humans by how they treat others

See Evolution of Innate Morality

Is your dog capable of moral judgements? Is it watching you and evaluating your trustworthiness?

According to a team of researchers from Kyoto and Hokkaido Universities, Japan, it might well be doing so.

Almost to a man or woman, theists will tell you that if gods provided us with anything, they provided us with morals. Neither Christians, Muslims or Jews seem to be able to understand how we could possibly have got morals from anywhere other than their holy book, revealed, so they claim, to mankind specifically to tell us how to behave and what rewards of punishments we could expect to ensure compliance.

Video from the New Scientist page:

From New Scientist:

And our own sense of morality may even have its roots in these sorts of primitive evaluations of others.

“I think that in humans there may be this basic sensitivity towards antisocial behaviour in others. Then through growing up, inculturation and teaching, it develops into a full-blown sense of morality,” says Anderson.

The capacity to make evaluations of others could help to stabilise complex social systems by enabling individuals to exclude bad social partners, says Kiley Hamlin at the University of British Columbia, Canada. “This exclusion not only means that individuals who make social evaluations can themselves avoid harmful social interactions, but it also could serve to discourage individuals from behaving badly in the first place, as presumably they do not wish to be excluded from the social system,” she says.

De Waal sees a strong link between morality and reputation. “Human morality is very much based on reputation building, because why would you try to be good if no one cares?” he says. “I don’t think you can conclude that it makes the monkeys moral beings, but ‘image scoring’, as reputation building is sometimes called, provides an important key mechanism.”


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Neil Godfrey

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One comment

  • 2017-02-16 22:30:23 GMT+0000 - 22:30 | Permalink

    Thanks for the shout out!

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