The Origins of Fairness: How Evolution Explains Our Moral Nature

Hardcover | April 15, 2016

byNicolas Baumard

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In order to describe the logic of morality, "contractualist" philosophers have studied how individuals behave when they choose to follow their moral intuitions. These individuals, contractualists note, often act as if they have bargained and thus reached an agreement with others about how todistribute the benefits and burdens of mutual cooperation. Using this observation, such philosophers argue that the purpose of morality is to maximize the benefits of human interaction. The resulting "contract" analogy is both insightful and puzzling. On one hand, it captures the pattern of moralintuitions, thus answering questions about human cooperation: why do humans cooperate? Why should the distribution of benefits be proportionate to each person's contribution? Why should the punishment be proportionate to the crime? Why should the rights be proportionate to the duties? On the otherhand, the analogy provides a mere as-if explanation for human cooperation, saying that cooperation is "as if" people have passed a contract-but since they didn't, why should it be so? To evolutionary thinkers, the puzzle of the missing contract is immediately reminiscent of the puzzle of the missing "designer" of life-forms, a puzzle that Darwin's theory of natural selection essentially resolved. Evolutionary and contractualist theory originally intersected at the work ofphilosophers John Rawls and David Gauthier, who argued that moral judgments are based on a sense of fairness that has been naturally selected. In this book, Nicolas Baumard further explores the theory that morality was originally an adaptation to the biological market of cooperation, an arena in which individuals competed to be selected for cooperative interactions. In this environment, Baumard suggests, the best strategy was to treatothers with impartiality and to share the costs and benefits of cooperation in a fair way, so that those who offered less than others were left out of cooperation while those who offered more were exploited by their partners. It is with this evolutionary approach that Baumard ultimately accounts forthe specific structure of human morality.

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In order to describe the logic of morality, "contractualist" philosophers have studied how individuals behave when they choose to follow their moral intuitions. These individuals, contractualists note, often act as if they have bargained and thus reached an agreement with others about how todistribute the benefits and burdens of mutual...

Nicolas Baumard is Research Scholar in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

other books by Nicolas Baumard

Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.1 inPublished:April 15, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190210222

ISBN - 13:9780190210229

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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: Reconciling morality with the natural sciencesNaturalism: The moral senseContractualism: The social contractA naturalistic and contractualist theory of moralityPART 1: THE MORAL SENSE1. A mental organ1.1. An autonomous dispositionMoral judgments and moral intuitionsMoral intuitions and moral ideas1.2. A domain-specific dispositionMorality, a passion among othersThe sense of honor1.3. A universal dispositionVariability as a product of the diversity of situations and beliefsObserved diversity and real diversity1.4. An innate disposition1.5. Non-intuitive moral judgments2. A functional disposition2.1. The competing passions2.2. The moral sense and non-naturalistic theoriesThe domain specificity of moral judgmentsThe innateness of moral judgments2.3. The moral sense as adaptationFunctionality and modularityEfficient causes and final causesPART 2: MORALITY AS FAIRNESS3. From cooperation to morality3.1. A naturalistic contractualism3.2. From the cooperation market to the sense of fairnessThe cooperation marketCooperation market theory vs. other mutualistic theoriesManipulation on the cooperation marketThe cooperation market in the ancestral environment3.3. The sense of fairnessThe example of reciprocity and justiceMoral rectitude, or fairness in generalFairness and power relationshipsFraming effects4. Moral principles and the sense of fairness4.1. Getting past principles4.2. The mutualistic logic of moral dilemmasActions and omissionsThe trolley dilemmaA mutualistic analysis of the trolley problemUtilitarian interpretations of the trolley problem4.3. Principles and justice5. A cognitive approach to the moral sense5.1. A contract without negotiations: Morality and theory of mindThe importance of others: Mental states vs. interestsConsent has no moral valueA mutualistic approach to responsibility5.2. The evaluation of individual interestsIntuitive axiology and the moral senseVictimless crimesRoles and statusesMoral differences between the sexes5.3. The limits of the moral communityThe proper and actual domains of the moral senseThe variability of the actual domain5.4. Disposition and micro-dispositionsPART 3: MORALITY AS SACRIFICE6. Mutualistic morality and utilitarian morality6.1. Utilitarian morality and group selection6.2. Utilitarian societies?Observed utilitarianism and real utilitarianismCollectivism and utilitarianismSocial institutions and moral interactions6.3. Utilitarian judgments?Distributive justiceRetributive justiceSupererogatory actionsMoral dilemmas6.4. Economic gamesThe ecological validity of economic gamesEconomic games: moral situationsA mutualistic analysis of economic games7. Punishment: useless and uncertain7.1. A marginal practice in non-state societies7.2. Revenge, ostracism and self-defense: punishments?7.3. A simple question of dutyA mutualistic analysis of apparently punitive actionsPunishment in economic games7.4. Retributive justice and penal systemsPART 4: MORALITY AS EXCELLENCE8. Mutualistic morality and virtue morality8.1. SympathyThe three faces of Adam SmithOf sympathy and the other social sentiments8.2. The parental instinct8.3. Disgust8.4. The virtues9. On the "state of nature"9.1. Morality in animalsMorality: one disposition among manyPrimate morality: reality or anthropomorphism?9.2. Morality and social cognitionUnderstanding others to communicateCommunicating to cooperateCONCLUSIONThe steps in the argumentThe scientific implications of a mutualistic theoryThe practical implications of mutualistic theoryReferences