Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Morality

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Morality

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This chapter reviews and evaluates Darwin’s model of the origin of morality. Darwin adopted a utilitarian conception of morality, outlined four stages in the evolution of the moral sense, offered an account of the origin of conscience, and explained how habits and reason interact with primitive dispositions to give rise to culturally relative and culturally universal moral norms. Although some of Darwin’s ideas seem misguided to modern evolutionary theorists, the framework he laid offers a sound foundation for an account of the evolution of morality.

Keywords: Darwin; origin of morality; utilitarian; conscience; habit; culturally-relative; culturally-universal; evolution

Chapter.  8722 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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