Bad by Nature?

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
Bad by Nature?

Show Summary Details


This chapter exposes two popular misconceptions about the evolution of morality, namely that the laws of natural selection dictate that all animals are selfish by nature, and because unselfishness is necessary for morality, all animals are immoral by nature. These assumptions are founded on a confusion between the kind of selfishness that characterizes evolved dispositions and the kind of selfishness that characterizes immoral behaviors. Although dispositions to behave in selfish ways have evolved in the human species, they are conditional and evoked only in circumstances in which they paid off in ancestral environments.

Keywords: morality; evolution; natural selection; selfishness; immoral behaviors; ancestral environments

Chapter.  6188 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.