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A model of actions and norms: An integrated evolutionary perspective on normative ethics and human behavior
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6319-009X
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2011 (English)In: Biology and Politics: The Cutting Edge / [ed] Peterson, S. A.; Somit, A., Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011, 29-51 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One fundamental question in normative ethics concerns how norms influence human behavior and discussions within normative ethics would be facilitated by a classification that treats human actions/behavior and moral norms within the same functional framework. Based on evolutionary analysis of benefits and costs, we distinguish five categories of human action. Four of these – self-interest, kin selection, group egoism, and cooperation – are basically results of gene selection, benefit the individual's genetic interest and may be described as “broad self-interest.” In contrast, the fifth category, unselfishness, is more likely a result of cultural influences. All the five categories of action are influenced by three broad moral spheres, each of which represents many norms that have a common denominator. Thus, a sphere of integrity concerns the individual's right to act in his/her interest and against those of other individuals. A sphere of reciprocal morality deals with rules for various forms of cooperation. An altruistic sphere has to do with the obligations to generate advantages for others. Ethics can be viewed as a dynamic conflict among various norms within and between these spheres. The classical conflict is that between the integrity and altruistic spheres. However, we argue that the prime antagonism may be that between the altruistic and reciprocal spheres; the main impact of altruistic ideals may not be the reputed one of counteracting egoism, but subversively thwarting reciprocal morality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011. 29-51 p.
Series
Research in Biopolitics, ISSN 2042-9940 ; 9
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69549DOI: 10.1108/S2042-9940(2011)0000009004ISI: 000307238700003ISBN: 978-0-85724-579-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-69549DiVA: diva2:477521
Available from: 2012-01-13 Created: 2012-01-13 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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