Center for Neurophilosophy and Ethics of Neurosciences

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Human nature and the feasibility of inclusivist moral progress: Revisiting the social origins of human morality and concerns for fairness

PhD Project of Andrés Segovia Cuéllar

Recent nativist proposals have claimed that human morality is constrained by exclusivist and in-group adaptive intuitions since cooperative behavior evolved in our species as an adaptation for parochial forms of pro-sociality designed to benefit one’s group and promote intergroup competition. Yet, human beings usually express inclusivist moral tendencies in the form of an expanded moral concern or a ‘subject-centered’ morality (Buchanan, 1990). It is not uncommon to hear people arguing in favor of universal moral norms or increasingly supporting the establishment of institutional laws to foster and defend human rights, animal rights, and even the rights of nature. As a consequence, several instances of moral progress in the last centuries have materialized an expansion of the circle of our moral concerns and the emergence of inclusivist moralities (Buchanan & Powell, 2018). Recent evolutionary models have even explained these features appealing to an alternative view of the starting conditions of human morality (Tomasello, 2016). In my doctoral research project, I defend an alternative radical developmental perspective to human moral nature, one that provides justifiable reasons to believe in the plausibility of inclusivist forms of moral development and progress. This is the philosophical argumentation developed throughout this project, where I defend a psychologically informed approach to morality based on normative individualism, and explore the adequacy of egalitarian social interactions and institutions as the most suitable contexts for inclusivist moralities to emerge and develop. This project includes an exploration of the development of moral concerns for fairness as an empirical validation of the model defended. In our central study, we explore the role that parent’s social attitudes have on the development of concerns for fairness in children. Our study pretends to investigate whether and to what extent parents’ endorsement of hierarchical or egalitarian social relations influences the development of moral concerns for fairness in children during resource allocation tasks.