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The Innate Mind Volume 2: Culture and Cognition$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310139.001.0001

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Is Human Morality Innate ?

Is Human Morality Innate ?

(p.257) 16 Is Human Morality Innate?
The Innate Mind

Richard Joyce

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to clarify the meaning of the claim that human morality is innate. It argues 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. It is hypothesized that “moralizing” one's deliberations (e.g., thinking of stealing as forbidden, as opposed merely to feeling disinclined to steal) might make more probable the performance or omission of adaptive actions (e.g., acts of reciprocity) by acting as a bulwark against certain kinds of motivational infirmity, such as weakness of will.

Keywords:   evolution of morality, evolutionary ethics, innate, morality, group selection, reciprocal altruism

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