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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
Article
  • 12 Downloads

Abstract

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 

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Copyright information

© Editrice Il Sedicesimo 1990

Authors and Affiliations

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

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