The Moral Wager

Evolution and Contract

  • Malcolm Murray

Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 108)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-12
  2. Pages 13-34
  3. Pages 59-91
  4. Pages 115-146
  5. Pages 147-174
  6. Pages 175-196
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 219-241

About this book


This book illuminates and sharpens moral theory, by analyzing the evolutionary dynamics of interpersonal relations in a variety of games. We discover that successful players in evolutionary games operate as if following this piece of normative advice: Don't do unto others without their consent.

From this advice, some significant implications for moral theory follow. First, we cannot view morality as a categorical imperative. Secondly, we cannot hope to offer rational justification for adopting moral advice. This is where Glaucon and Adeimantus went astray: they wanted a proof of the benefits of morality in every single case. That is not possible. Moral constraint is a bad bet taken in and of itself. But there is some good news: moral constraint is a good bet when examined statistically.


Contractarianism Evolution Evolutionary ethics Game theory Instrumentalism Irrealism morality

Authors and affiliations

  • Malcolm Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetownCanada

Bibliographic information