The Origin of the Moral Senses

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
The Origin of the Moral Senses

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This chapter contains a classification of the moral senses and a speculative account of how they originated. It is suggested that a sense of duty originated in the emotional and motivational states that induce people to behave in prosocial ways. A sense of rights originated in a consciousness of implicit social norms defining how people are permitted to advance their interests in the context of their groups. Conscience originated in emotional reactions to social sanctions administered by others. Such moral sentiments as gratitude and indignation originated in emotional reactions to prosocial and antisocial behaviors emitted by others. A sense of justice originated as a means of counteracting cheating in cooperative exchanges. Abstract ideas about morality emerged when early humans acquired the ability to reflect on their moral intuitions. Jonathan Haidt’s model of moral decision-making contrasts rational sources of moral judgment with moral intuitions.

Keywords: moral senses; duty; rights; conscience; gratitude; indignation; a sense of justice; abstract moral ideas; Jonathan Haidt; moral intuitions

Chapter.  7140 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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