Friday, March 26, 2021

89 - Is Morality All About Cooperation?

What are the origins and dynamics of human morality? Is morality, at root, an attempt to solve basic problems of cooperation? What implications does this have for the future? In this episode, I chat to Dr Oliver Scott Curry about these questions. We discuss, in particular, his theory of morality as cooperation (MAC). Dr Curry is Research Director for Kindlab, at He is also a Research Affiliate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, and a Research Associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, at the London School of Economics. He received his PhD from LSE in 2005. Oliver’s academic research investigates the nature, content and structure of human morality. He tackles such questions as: What is morality? How did morality evolve? What psychological mechanisms underpin moral judgments? How are moral values best measured? And how does morality vary across cultures? To answer these questions, he employs a range of techniques from philosophy, experimental and social psychology and comparative anthropology.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).


Show Notes

Topics discussed include:

  • The nature of morality
  • The link between human morality and cooperation
  • The seven types of cooperation 
  • How these seven types of cooperation generate distinctive moral norms
  • The evidence for the theory of morality as cooperation
  • Is the theory underinclusive, reductive and universalist? Is that a problem?
  • Is the theory overinclusive? Could it be falsified?
  • Why Morality as Cooperation is better than Moral Foundations Theory
  • The future of cooperation

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