A Natural History of Human Morality

Tomasello, Michael

My comments 2018-01-23


A magisterial synthesis of empirical results and philosophical arguments concerning anthropology, sociology, human psychology and evolutionary history. How can human morality be the product of the seemingly amoral process of evolution? The discussion is grounded in empirical results concerning the common and divergent behaviors of human children and chimpanzees (our nearest evolutionary relative). The focus in this book is on how cooperation, joint intentionality and fairness based on other-self equivalence eventually has evolved into morality. The argument draws a long, winding curve through the dots provided by the empirical results and philosophical considerations.

This was not an easy read. I had to go slowly, carefully thinking about what the theory and arguments state. But it was certainly rewarding. I have changed my views on the "naturalness" of equality, and of how social norms work, and why they are so important.