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Monday, October 13, 2014

The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons

By Rachel Kendal
The Conversation
Originally posted September 19, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Biologists are surprised by this tendency to behave fairly. The theory of evolution by natural selection predicts that individuals should behave in ways to maximise their inclusive fitness. So behaviours are only selected, and hence evolve, if they ensure the survival and reproduction of the actor or kin whom contain copies of the actor’s genes. However, the behaviour displayed by children seems to be at a detriment to themselves, especially when those who benefit from their selfless behaviour are not the children’s kin.

A child’s sense of fairness, egalitarianism, or aversion to inequality can actually be hampered by instruction to “be fair” and rewarding of this behaviour. That is because what is the child’s intrinsic motivation, becomes a need to follow externally imposed rules. And, as we all know, following rules we believe in is far easier than following rules that are imposed upon us, despite attendant punishments for not doing so.

The entire article is here.