Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 903–931 | Cite as

Meat made us moral: a hypothesis on the nature and evolution of moral judgment

  • Matteo Mameli


In the first part of the article, an account of moral judgment in terms of emotional dispositions is given. This account provides an expressivist explanation of three important features of moral demands: inescapability, authority independence and meriting. In the second part of the article, some ideas initially put forward by Christopher Boehm are developed and modified in order to provide a hypothesis about the evolution of the ability to token moral judgments. This hypothesis makes evolutionary sense of inescapability, authority independence and meriting. It does so by referring to the selection pressures generated in the Late Pleistocene by large-game hunting. If the hypothesis is correct, we can say that, in a sense, meat made us moral.


Morality Evolution Emotions Hunter-gatherers Egalitarianism 



The author would like to thank the following people for comments and discussion: two anonymous referees, Kim Sterelny, Cecilia Heyes, James Maclaurin, David Papineau, Lisa Bortolotti, Nicholas Shea, Iván Darío González Cabrera, and the audience at ISHPSSB 2013 and at FOLSATEC/SEMM.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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