Is human morality innate?


The first objective of this chapter is to clarify what might be meant by the claim that human morality is innate. The second is to argue that if human morality is indeed innate an explanation may be provided that does not resort to an appeal to group selection, but invokes only individual selection and so-called “reciprocal altruism” in particular. This second task is not motivated by any theoretical or methodological prejudice against group selection; I willingly concede that group selection is a legitimate evolutionary process, and that it may well have had the dominant hand in the evolution of human morality. There is a fact of the matter about which process, or which combination of processes, produced any given adaptation, and it is to be hoped that in time enough evidence might be brought into the light to settle such issues. At present, though, the evidence is insufficient regarding human morality. By preferring to focus on reciprocity rather than group selection I take myself simply to be outlining and advocating a coherent and uncomplicated hypothesis, which may then take its place alongside other hypotheses to face the tribunal of our best evidence.



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