Human Evolution

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 153–166 | Cite as

An evolutionary mechanism for the origin of moral norms; towards the meta-trait of culture

  • K. R. Fialkowski


It is claimed that a social group of unrelated individuals specialized in performing different tasks is specifically human and has no analogy in the animal kingdom. Among animals only some insects of two orders, Isoptera (termites) and Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants) live in social groups of individuals performing specialized tasks, but those, individuals are related. For all social groups of individuals specialized in tasks, average fitness drops close to nil when the group disintegrates. It is not, however, a continuous decrease of fitness leading to smaller but still high values when the group disintegrates but rather a discrete switch of the average fitness; from a high value to close to nil.

In groups consisting of related individuals maximization of inclusive fitness constitutes a mechanism sufficient to support the existence of such groups. Only in the case of the human (unrelated) group, to maintain the group and high fitness of its individuals, a non-reciprocal altruistic approach of an individual had to be displayed to all members of the group (regardless of relatedness). Since strategies resulting from the altruistic approach contradicted the genetically programmed strategies, moral codes were introduced to suppress the latter.

This non-reciprocal altruism to any member of the group is in fact equivalent to the reciprocal “altruism” to an abstract entity called system group and is unique to the human.

Altruism is considered here as a component of the meta-trait of culture.

Key Words

Culture sociobiology theory of games system altruism reliability moral norms educability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander R.D., 1974.The evolution of secret behavior. A. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 5: 325–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander R.D., 1979.Darwinism and human affairs. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barash D.P., 1977.Sociobiology and Behaviour. New York: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  4. Bertalanffy von L., 1984. General System Theory. New York: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  5. Bielicki T., 1985.On a Certain Generic peculiarity of Man. Journal of Human Evolution 14: 411–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bielicki T., 1987.Sociobiology and the problem of «The principal distinction» between man and animal. Int. Symposium Biological Evolution (V.P. Delfino, Ed.), Adriatica Editrice, Bari, pp. 293–303.Google Scholar
  7. Bortz W., 1985.Physical exercise as an evolutionary force Journal of Human Evolution 14: 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyd R. &Richerson P.J., 1985.Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brockmann H.J., 1984.The evolution of social behavior in insects. Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach (ed. Kreb, J.R. and Davis, N.B.). Sinauer Ass Inc., pp. 340–61.Google Scholar
  10. Brown J.L., 1975.The evolution of behavior. W. W. Norton and Co. Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  11. Campbell D.T., 1978.Social Norms as evidence of conflict between biological human nature and social system requirements (G.S. Stent, Ed.). In Morality as a Biological Phenomenon, pp. 75–92. Berlin: Dahlem Konferenzen.Google Scholar
  12. Crook J.H., 1970.The socio-ecology of primates. Social behaviour in birds and mammals (ed. J. H. Crook). Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  13. Daly M. &Wilson M., 1978.Sex, evolution and behavior. North Scituate, Mass: Duxbury Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dobzhansky T., 1950.The genetic nature of differences among men. New Haven: Stow Person's Evolutionary Thought in America. Yale University Press, pp. 86–155.Google Scholar
  15. Dobzhansky T., 1951.Genetics and the Origin of Species. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 308.Google Scholar
  16. Dobzhansky T., &Ashley-Montagu, 1947.Natural Selection and the Mental Capacities of Mankind, 106: 587–590.Google Scholar
  17. Durham W. H., 1978.Towards a coevolutionary theory of human biology and behavior. The sociobiology debate (A.L. Caplan, Ed.), pp. 428–448. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  18. Fialkowski K., 1987.Maximization of fitness through limited number of offspring in evolution of Homo Sapeins. Human Evolution, 2: 437–443.Google Scholar
  19. Fialkowski K., 1986.A mechanism for the origin of the human brain: a hypothesis. Current Anthropology 27, pp. 288–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fialkowski K., 1987.On the origin of the human brain: preadaptation vs. adaption. Current Anthropology, 28: 540–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton W.D., 1972.Altruism and related phenomena mainly in social insects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 3: 193–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kleiman D.G. &Eisenberg J.F., 1973.Comparison of candid and felid social systems from an evolutionary perspective. Anim. Behav., 21: 631–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Iederberg J., 1969.Health in the world of tomorrow. Third PAHO/WHO lecture in the biomedical sciences. Pan American Health Organization/WHO, pp. 5–15.Google Scholar
  24. Lumsden C. &Wilson E.O., 1981.Genes, mind, and culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Maynard Smith J., 1972.On Evolution. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Maynard Smith J., 1982.Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. McCulloch W.S., 1960.Reliability of biological systems. Proceedings of interdiscipoinary conferences on self organizing, systems, pp 358–380. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  28. Newman M., 1975.Nutritional adaptation in man (A. Damon, Ed.). Physiological Anthropology, pp. 210–259. London, Toronto: O.U.P.Google Scholar
  29. Pilbeam D., 1984.The descent of hominoids and hominids. Scientific American 3: 60–69.Google Scholar
  30. Pulliam H.R. & Caraco T., 1984.Living in groups: is there an optimal size? Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach (ed. Kreb, J.R. and Davis, N.B.). Sinauer Ass Inc., pp. 122–47.Google Scholar
  31. Rindos D., 1986.The evolution of the capacity for culture: sociobiology, structuralism and cultural selectionism. Current Anthropology, 27: 315–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rossi I., 1985.Predicting technological, innovation through a dialectic reinterpretation of the four-function paradigm Neofunctionalism (J.C. Alexander Ed.), pp. 773–95, Beverly, Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Sahlins M., 1976,Culture and practical reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Simek J.F., 1986.Comments on Rindo's paper «The evolution of the capacity for culture: sociobiology, structuralism and cultural selectionism». Current Anthropology, 27: 315–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Urbanek A., 1980.No granicy biologii i socjologii. Nauka Polska 3–4: 115–135.Google Scholar
  36. Wilson D.S., 1980.The Natural Selection of Populations and Communities. Menlo Park: Benjamin/Cummings.Google Scholar
  37. Wilson D.S., &Colwell R.K., 1981.Evolution of Gene Ratio in Structured Demes. Evolution, 35: 882–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wilson E.O., 1971.The insect societies. Belknap Press. Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  39. Wind J., 1986.Comments on Rindo's paper «The evolution of the capacity for culture: sociobiology, structuralism and cultural selectionism». Current Anthropology 27: 328–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Editrice Il Sedicesimo 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. R. Fialkowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Polish Academy of SciencesPoland

Personalised recommendations