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The Origins of MoralityAn Evolutionary Account$
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Dennis Krebs

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199778232.001.0001

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The Evolution of Altruism through Group Selection and Imperfect Design

The Evolution of Altruism through Group Selection and Imperfect Design

(p.116) 10 The Evolution of Altruism through Group Selection and Imperfect Design
The Origins of Morality

Dennis L. Krebs

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews accounts of the evolution of altruism through group selection, and explains how imperfections in the design of evolved mental mechanisms can give rise to altruistic acts. Although many evolutionary theorists reject the idea that biological forms of altruism have evolved through group selection, some prominent evolutionary theorists have advanced theoretical arguments and empirical evidence in support of this process. Mental mechanisms that evolved because they enabled individuals to reap the adaptive benefits of social learning and reasoning may dispose them to behave in costly altruistic ways and render them susceptible to manipulation. Mental mechanisms that disposed early humans to behave in genetically selfish, fitness-increasing ways in the environments in which they evolved may dispose modern humans to behave in genetically altruistic, fitness-reducing ways in modern environments.

Keywords:   group selection, altruism, design imperfections, social learning, reason, genetic selfishness, fitness

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