How selfish genes shape moral passions
Author: Nesse, R.M.
Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 7, Numbers 1-2, 2000 , pp. 227-231(5)
Publisher: Imprint Academic
Abstract:Genes are ‘selfish’ in that they make organisms whose behaviours are shaped, necessarily, to benefit their genes. But altruism and selfishness as we usually think of them have little to do with ‘evolutionary altruism’ and ‘evolutionary selfishness', and the use of these phrases has given rise to much confusion. The most pernicious is the false conclusion that individual altruism is impossible unless it has been shaped by group selection. In fact, human altruism and morality are shaped by genes because individuals with these capacities have a fitness advantage. The advantage may come from sexual selection, social selection, or the advantages of a capacity for commitment, as well as from cooperation, and kin selection. Ironically, morality may be a metaphor so powerful that it inhibits careful thinking precisely because our brains are wired by natural selection to see the world in terms of good and evil.
Document Type: Review Article
Affiliations: University of Michigan, Room 5057 ISR, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1248.
Publication date: 2000-01-01