An evolutionary perspective on morality
AbstractMoral behavior and concern for others are sometimes argued to set humans apart from other species. However, there is some evidence that humans are not the only animal species to possess these characteristics. Work from behavioral biology and neuroscience has indicated that some of these traits are present in other species, including other primates. Studying these behaviors in other species can inform us about the evolutionary trajectory of morality, helping us to understand how the behaviors evolved and which environmental characteristics were critical for their emergence. A brief historical look indicates that, while this evolutionary approach to human behavior is not always well received, this line of inquiry is not new. For instance Adam Smith, better known for his economics than his natural history, was clearly sympathetic with the view that moral behaviors are present in species other than humans. This paper focuses on how individuals respond to inequity, which is related to moral behavior. Recent evidence shows that non-human primates distinguish between inequitable and equitable outcomes. However, this is primarily in situations in which inequity hurts the self (e.g. disadvantageous inequity) rather than another (e.g. advantageous inequity). Studying such responses can help us understand the evolutionary basis of moral behavior, which increases our understanding of how our own morality emerged.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Volume (Year): 77 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo
Capuchin monkey Chimpanzee Inequity Inequality Moral behavior Evolution of behavior;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- M.A. Nowak & K. Sigmund, 1998. "Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Image Scoring/ The Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," Working Papers ir98040, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., .
"A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation,"
Chapters in Economics,
University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- List, John A. & Cherry, Todd L., 2008.
"Examining the role of fairness in high stakes allocation decisions,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-8, January.
- Todd L. Cherry & John A. List, 2004. "Examining the Role of Fairness in High Stakes Allocation Decisions," Working Papers 04-01, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
- M. Keith Chen & Venkat Lakshminarayanan & Laurie R. Santos, 2006. "How Basic Are Behavioral Biases? Evidence from Capuchin Monkey Trading Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 517-537, June.
- Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
- Fessler, Daniel M.T., 2009. "Return of the lost letter: Experimental framing does not enhance altruism in an everyday context," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 575-578, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.