Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © 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: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Adam Smith argued that humans were motivated by both self-interest and moral concerns. Economics has since moved towards a contrasting utilitarian view where behavior is understood in terms of unifying preference functions. Also most economists have presumed that these preferences are “self-regarding.” Two major treatises in economics were published in 1871, with self-seeking economic man at their center. In the same year Darwin published The Descent of Man, which emphasized sympathy and cooperation as well as self-interest, and argued that morality has evolved in humans by natural selection. This stance is supported by modern research. This article reconciles Darwin’s view that developed morality requires language and deliberation (and is thus unique to humans), with his other claim that moral feelings have a long-evolved and biologically inherited basis. It also questions whether the recent addition of “other-regarding” preferences is adequate, and whether morality and altruism are reducible to preferences or utility maximization.

Keywords: morality, Charles Darwin, evolution, cooperation, altruism, other-regarding preferences

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.