Previous Summary and Application

  • Biologists can explain morality on multiple levels.

    As genetic behavior, moral outcomes are explained alternately by kin selection or reciprocity. As a psychological motive or intent, morality is explained by open learning systems shaped by emotion and reasoning from experience. As a social system, morality is explained by mutual accountability among individuals or by selective interaction based on social information (compare to Figure 1). Processes at each level provide a context in which the others function.

    Figure 2. Complementary explanations of moral behavior, reflecting multiple biological levels.
    Behavior Biological Explanations
    moral outcomes
  • kin selection
  • reciprocity
  • moral motives/intent
  • innate sympathies
  • open behavior/learning
  • moral systems
  • network reciprocity
  • strong reciprocity
  • indirect reciprocity
  • communication and politics
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