Human phenotypic morality and the biological basis for knowing good

Zygon 52 (3):822-846 (2017)
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Co-creating knowledge takes a new approach to human phenotypic morality as a biologically based, human lineage specific trait. Authors from very different backgrounds first review research on the nature and origins of morality using the social brain network, and studies of individuals who cannot “know good” or think morally because of brain dysfunction. They find these models helpful but insufficient, and turn to paleoanthropology, cognitive science, and neuroscience to understand human moral capacity and its origins long ago, in the genus Homo. An unusual narrative capturing “morality in action” takes the reader back 900,000 years, and then the authors analyze the essential features of moral thinking and behavior as expressed by early and later species on our lineage. In what has primarily been the province of philosophers to date, the authors’ morality model is presented for further scientific testing.



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Margaret Boone Rappaport
Ohio State University (PhD)