A Mutualistic Approach to Morality

Abstract:
What makes humans moral begeings? This question can be understood eather as a proximate "how"  question or as an ultimate "why" question. The "how" question is about the mental and social mechanisms that produce moral judgements and interactions, and has been investigated by psychologists and social scientists. The "why" question is about the fitness consequences that explain why humans have morality, and has been discussed by evolutionary biologists in the context of the evolution of cooperation. Our goal here is to contribute to a fruitful articulation of such proximate and ultimate explantions of human moarlity. We developp an approach to morality as an adaptation to an environment in which individuals were in  competition to be chosen and recruited in mutually advantageous cooperative interactions. In this environment, the best strategy is to treat others with impartiality and to share the costs and benefits of cooperation equally. Those who offer less than others will be left out of cooperation: conversely, those who offer more will be exploited by their partners. In line with this mutualistic approach, the study of a range of economic games involving property rights, collective actions, mutual help and punishment shows that participants' distributions aim at shari ng the costs and benefits of interactions in an impartial way. In particular, the distribution of resources is influenced by effort and talent, and the perception of each participant's rights on the resources to be distributed.

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