A Second-Personal Approach to the Evolution of Morality

Biological Theory 17 (3):199-209 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Building on the discussion between Stephen Darwall and Michael Tomassello, we propose an alternative evolutionary account of moral motivation in its two-pronged dimension. We argue that an evolutionary account of moral motivation must account for the two forms of moral motivation that we distinguish: motivation to be partial, which is triggered by the affective relationships we develop with others; and motivation to be impartial, which is triggered by those norms to which we give impartial validity. To that aim, we present the second-person standpoint of morality, first as Darwall conceives of it, and then as we reinterpret it from a naturalistic approach. Then we synthesize Tomasello’s evolutionary account of morality, and Darwall’s objections to it. To reply to those objections, building on Tomasello’s proposal, we argue that the motivation to be impartial, and the feeling of obligation to comply with normative requirements, appeared when humans anticipated and, critically, internalized others’ sanctions to the violation of social norms. Consequently, we posit that social norms and sanctions appeared first at the community level, and only after that were they internalized in the form of self-directed reactive attitudes. Finally, we derive some corollaries that follow from our proposal.

Author Profiles

Carme Isern-Mas
Universitat de les Illes Balears


Added to PP

289 (#52,619)

6 months
111 (#29,447)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?