From the age of Darwin to the present day, biologists have been grappling with the origins of our moral sense Why, if the human instinct to survive and reproduce is selfish, do people engage in self sacrifice, and even develop ideas like virtue and shame to justify that altruism Many theories have been put forth, some emphasizing the role of nepotism, others emphasizing the advantages of reciprocation or group selection effects But evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm finds existing explanations lacking, and in Moral Origins, he offers an elegant new theory.Tracing the development of altruism and group social control over 6 million years, Boehm argues that our moral sense is a sophisticated defense mechanism that enables individuals to survive and thrive in groups One of the biggest risks of group living is the possibility of being punished for our misdeeds by those around us Bullies, thieves, free riders, and especially psychopathsthose who make it difficult for others to go about their livesare the most likely to suffer this fate Getting by requires getting along, and this social type of selection, Boehm shows, singles out altruists for survival This selection pressure has been unique in shaping human nature, and it bred the first stirrings of conscience in the human species Ultimately, it led to the fully developed sense of virtue and shame that we know today.A groundbreaking exploration of the evolution of human generosity and cooperation, Moral Origins offers profound insight into humanitys moral pastand how it might shape our moral future....
|Title||:||Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame|
|Publisher||:||Basic Books 1 edition May 1, 2012|
|Number of Pages||:||432 pages|
|File Size||:||565 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame Reviews
Boehm gives a unique perspective to the origins and evolution of human morals as we know them today. The hypothesis has a solid structure and is backed by an extensive amount of research. I would definitely recommend this read to anyone interested in human behaviour or those who display an interest in anthropological history. I will definitely be looking for more titles published by Christopher Boehm.
In Christopher Boehm's earlier book Hierarchy in the Forest: the Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior (1999), he describes how hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies created egalitarian societies. The band or tribe members co-operated to prevent "alpha" type males from dominating their group. Having language helped them achieve this political equality, which chimpanzees would like to achieve and occasionally try to achieve but cannot maintain. Boehm is both an anthropologist and a primatologist and has studied egalitarian band, tribe and village customs and chimps in the wild. Without language that allows them to communicate and better co-operate, chimps end up with hierarchical societies. Human's egalitarianism is partly "natural" i.e. DNA driven and also made possible by abilities like language facilitated by DNA. Egalitarianism is the result of actions and a culture i.e. learned behavior. It is a question of the actions by all the adult members of the society to block potential tyrants or bullies from using physically force to dominate their group. It allows most males to have mates and requires hunters to share equally the meat of a large animal kill among all the members of the band. It requires alpha types to be generous, not aggressive, and not able to give orders or even assume "airs" of superiority.
I found this book because of Sebastian Junger's book Tribe. It told a familiar story of the growth of reciprocal altruism in the historical context.
Made the case for human morality as fundamentally developed by our hunter gatherer ancestors functioning in small bands where democratic cooperation was necessary to a thriving community.
In Moral Origins, Christopher Boehm tackles the evolutionary origin of our conscience and the factors that might have propelled its integration into the species. Moral behaviour, from an evolutionary perspective, can seem a perplexing developement as altruism is hard to incorporate into an environment in which individuals are competing for resources. The author attempts to describe how such behaviour evolved and why it might not contradict any evolutionary principles and was in fact an attribute that improved genetic suitability.