HOW DID MORALITY EVOLVE?

William Irons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abstract. This paper presents and criticizes. Alexander's evolutionary theory of morality (1987). Earlier research, on which Alexander's theory is based, is also reviewed. The propensity to create moral systems evolved because it allowed ancestral humans to limit conflict within cooperating groups and thus form larger groups, which were advantageous because of intense between‐group competition. Alexander sees moral codes as contractual, and the primary criticism of his theory is that moral codes are not completely contractual but also coercive. Ways of evaluating Alexander's theory as well as modified versions of it are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-89
Number of pages41
JournalZygon®
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1991

Keywords

  • evolutionary theory
  • human behavioral biology
  • morality
  • sociobiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Religious studies

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