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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Morality as Cooperation: A Problem-Centred Approach

Curry, O. S. (2016). Morality as Cooperation: A Problem-Centred Approach. In T. K. Shackelford & R. D. Hansen (Eds.), The Evolution of Morality (pp. 27-51): Springer International Publishing.

Here is an excerpt:

First, the good, the bad, and the neutral. As we have seen, morality as coopera-tion predicts that people will regard speciļ¬c types of cooperative behaviour—behaviour that solves some problem of cooperation—as morally good. Thus, people will regard helping your family, being loyal to your group, reciprocating favours, being brave, deferring to authority, dividing disputed resources, and respecting property, as morally good. And they will regard failing to cooperate—by neglecting your family, betraying your group, cheating, being cowardly, rebelling against  authority, being unfair, and stealing—as morally bad. The theory also predicts that behaviour that has nothing to do with cooperation—nonsocial behaviour or competition in zero-sum games (‘all’s fair in love and war’)—will be regarded as morally neutral.

Second, universality and diversity. Morality as cooperation also predicts that—because these problems are universal features of human social life—these cooperative behaviours will be considered morally good in every human culture, at all times and in all places. There will be no cultures where morality is about something other than cooperation—say, aesthetics or nutrition. And there will be no cultures where helping your family, being loyal to your group, reciprocating favours, being brave, deferring to authority, dividing disputed resources, respecting property, and so on are considered morally bad. However, the theory does not predict that moral systems will everywhere be identical. On the contrary, the prediction is that, to the extent that different people and different societies face different portfolios of prob-lems, different domains of morality will loom larger—different cultures will prioritise different moral values. For example, differences in family size, frequency of warfare, or degree of inequality may lead to differences in the importance attached to family values, bravery, and respect.

Third, uncharted territory. Morality as cooperation predicts that as yet poorly understood aspects of morality will also turn out to be about cooperation.

The entire article is here.
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