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Morality as Cooperation: How Evolution Explains Ethics

14th May 2017 · 11:00am - 1:00pm

In person | Virtual event

 Morality as Cooperation: How Evolution Explains Ethics

What is morality and where does it come from? The theory of morality-as-cooperation argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation and conflict recurrent in human social life. This theory predicts that specific forms of cooperative behaviour – helping kin, helping your group, reciprocating, being brave, deferring to superiors, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior ownership – will be considered morally good wherever they arise, irrespective of culture. Here I test the theory by means of a survey of morality in the ethnographic records of 60 societies. The survey finds that, as predicted, the moral valence of cooperative behaviour is uniformly positive; and the majority of these cooperative moral values appear in the majority of cultures, in all regions of the world.

Dr Oliver Scott Curry is a Senior Researcher, and Director of the Oxford Morals Project, at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford. His research investigates the nature, content and structure of human morality, using a range of techniques from philosophy, experimental psychology and comparative anthropology.

Doors 10.30. Start 11.00

Entry £3, £2 concessions. (free to Conway Hall Ethical Society members)

Brockway Room (Ground floor – accessible. Induction loop audio).

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.

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