Evolutionary Origins of Morality:
Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

Edited by Leonard D. Katz
ISBN: 090784507X
Published by Imprint Academic $24.95

This is a collection of academic essays from various scientific disciplines, reviewing and debating the fine points of the idea that the human capacity for morality has evolved based on social need, and that it exists alongside our increased social involvement (as compared with evolutionary predecesors).

Discussion includes consideration of reciprocal altruism, kin selection/kin altruism, group selection, and other related topics. Reading this book opened my eyes to just how complicated and controversial sociobiological concepts can be. The input of biologists, philosophers, economists, ethicists, evolution scientists, and even mathematicians come together in this collection of essays aimed at showing the diverse set of viewpoints on the topic of how evolution may or may not have shaped altruism and morality. Some of the essays are discursive (i.e. responding to one another), and it is nice to see an original work followed by criticism of it, followed by the original author's response to such criticism, and so on.

The essays are concise and readable if you have an interest in the subject, but they are a bit esoteric at times. But the points they debate are rather fine at times, so if you're looking for a primer on the subject, I recommend certain sections of Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works, or alternatively, Unto Others by Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson.

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