Evolutionary Origins of Moral Intuitions

Humans are demonstrably amoral (both predatory and productive) as we see fit in the moment. If this was not true we would not need so many institutions to train people on the one hand; and manners, norms, traditions and laws to assist us in cooperating; and parents, neighbors, police, judges, generals and soldiers to insure those manners, norms, traditions, and laws.

We feel (almost all of us) the instinct to lie/cheat/steal/kill, just as we feel (almost all of us) the instinct to tell the truth, to transact honestly, to avoid imposition of costs, and avoid harm. Just as we feel (almost all of us) the instinct to invest in future cooperation and engage in signaling.

The simple truth is that we are so exceptional at creating manners, ethics, morals, traditions, laws and institutions of their defense, that it is almost always inadvisable to violate them rather than engage in productive cooperation, no matter how limited the value or returns on cooperation are to us.

That evolution has provided us with the emotions of pride and fulfillment and shame and fear, when we demonstrate those moral and immoral actions, is simply evolution’s expansion of offspring-defense to the rest of the band, and tribe (now community).

And the value of that expansion of that trait of kin-selection to what we call ‘morality’ is the result of nothing more than the danger of being outcast versus the (absurdly high) rewards of cooperation.

Language evolved (it appears) to increase the (absurdly high) rewards of cooperation.

The adage “many hands make light work” doesn’t include a metric, but Adam Smith gave us one: divsion of labor does not merely increase linearly, but logarithmically such that the labor of one person when spread to ten is on the order of ten THOUSAND times more productive.

In simple terms the better your language(correspondence), the better your verbal ability (iq), the better your division of labor (institutions of property), ad the greater your suppression of free riding, parasitism and predation (crime), the faster you will produce, the more calories you will capture in relation to output, and the more offspring you can afford, the more advanced tools and weapons you can produce.

Hence why tolerance for milk (40% increase in calories form the same production) plus horse+wheel+plus bronze), allowed a small population north of the black sea to spread from spain to china.

ANd why guns, germs, steel, law, and accounting allowed a small population to rapidly rule and transform the world.

The primary problem is that we wish to remain children with a steady state and little stress, when it is the continuous conquest of stresses that provides evolutionary adaptation and innovation.

In other words, our moral sensations are evolutionarily correct, but our work sensations are evolutionarily counter-productive. You cannot save your way out of poverty, nor avoid work your way into prosperity.

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