Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that the best biological explanation for the existence of altruistic behavior supports noncognitivism. In its view, evolutionary biology supports the idea that the function of moral attitudes is to create motivation for the kinds of altruistic behavior that improve social cohesion. The criterion of success of a system of moral rules is not accurate representation, but the improvement of social cohesion in ways that promote the transmission of the system itself. One might combine the view of this article, according to which moral codes have the function of improving social cohesion, with the view that moral truths are “grounded in” the tendency of a system of moral rules to improve social cohesion. The result would be a cognitivist moral functionalism. However, there is no need to postulate the existence of moral truths in order to explain altruistic behavior.

Keywords: altruistic behavior, noncognitivism, evolutionary biology, moral attitudes, social cohesion

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.