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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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Psychological and Neurological Sources of Uniquely Human Forms of Prosocial Conduct

Psychological and Neurological Sources of Uniquely Human Forms of Prosocial Conduct

(p.187) 15 Psychological and Neurological Sources of Uniquely Human Forms of Prosocial Conduct
The Origins of Morality

Dennis L. Krebs

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, it is argued that because uniquely-human forms of prosocial conduct stem from mechanisms in the human brain, understanding how the brain evolved supplies a basis for understanding them. Runaway “arm race” process, such as those involved in sexual selection, the selection of social strategies, and the evolution of culture, were probably implicated in the expansion and refinement of the human brain. Humans’ large brains enable them to create and manipulate images and ideas in their heads, which increases their capacity to learn, to remember, to plan, to predict, to perform mental simulations, to reason, and to engage in creative thinking. Humans’ capacity for language contributed to the expansion and refinement of prosocial behaviors in several ways. Although advanced cognitive abilities endow people with the capacity to engage in uniquely-human prosocial behaviors, they do not necessarily generate the motivation to enact them.

Keywords:   uniquely-human prosocial behaviors, evolution of the brain, runaway processes, arms races, memory, planning, mental simulation, reason, creative thinking, language

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