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From Biology to Consciousness to Morality

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Social animals are provisioned with prosocial orientations that operate to transcend self-interest. Morality, as used here, describes human versions of such orientations. We explore the evolutionary antecedents of morality in the context of emergentism, giving considerable attention to the biological traits that undergird awareness and our emergent human forms of mind. We suggest that our moral frames of mind emerge from our primate prosocial capacities, transfigured and valenced by our symbolic languages, cultures, and religions.

Keywords: biology; brains; consciousness; culture; emergence; moral ideals; moral motivation; morality; symbolic language; virtue

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 2: Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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