Is Your Own Species Evolving to be More Moral?
|December 23, 2013||Posted by Staff under War / Peace|
How we make moral and political decisions may reshape our understanding of what morality is in the first place.
This 2013 excerpt of Mother Jones, Dec 13, is by Chris Mooney.
While we have innate dispositions to care for one another, they’re ultimately limited and work best among smallish clans of people who trust and know each other.
Feelings such as empathy and gratitude make it easy for us to be good; indeed, cooperation seems to come naturally and automatically. We have gut reactions that make us cooperative; f you force people to stop and think, then they’re less likely to be cooperative.
Gossip is our moral scorecard. We keep tabs and enforce norms through punishment. Two-thirds of human conversations involve chattering about other people, including spreading word of who’s behaving well and who’s behaving badly. Thus do we impose serious costs on those who commit anti-social behavior.
Just as we’re naturally inclined to be cooperative within our own group, we’re also inclined to distrust other groups (or worse). In-group favoritism and ethnocentrism are human universals. When it comes to us versus them, our gut reactions are the source of the problem. From an evolutionary perspective, morality is built to make groups cohere, not to achieve world peace.
Morality varies regionally and culturally.
Your brain is not in favor of the greatest good for the greatest number.
Humanity may be becoming more moral. It is far easier now than it ever was to be aware that your moral obligations don’t end where your small group ends. Witness the global response to the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. What’s more, intergroup violence seems to be on the decline.
Ed. Notes: As people get moral, could they even get over land speculation?