questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science understanding of the evolution of human moral sentiments and draws out. acquainted with objections to the theory of evolution. The idea was hardly new. In The Moral Animal, author Robert Wright surveys some pre-Darwinian theories. The Moral Animal by Robert Wright is an eye opening book of why we are the way we are and why we do what we do. Read here a summary.

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Wax, Amy L., "Against Nature: On Robert Wright's The Moral Animal" (). Faculty The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life. Robert. [DOWNLOAD] PDF The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life (Vintage) by Robert Wright [DOWNLOAD] PDF The Moral. download The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology on ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders.

The anatomical observations predict that we are a somewhat polygynous species Mental competition between males has been unusually important relative to physical competition in humans. Most societies may have been polygynous, but most marriages have been meant to be monogamous. Wright observes that when a married man falls in love with a younger woman, contemporary monogamo-centric cultures demand that he divorce his wife and abandon his former family.

He suggests that polygyny handles this situation better. Something, it appears, has gone horribly wrong. When men mostly have the same economic means, polygyny is a bad deal for a woman. Why take half the resources of a man when you could get all the resources of an equally wealthy man? In cases like these, monogamy is "ecologically imposed". Anthropological studies provide evidence: monogamous societies are usually "nonstratified".

But there are about 70 societies, including the modern industrial ones, that are both stratified and monogamous. In these societies, monogamy is "socially imposed".

But why? Perhaps the society is non-stratified within economic classes. Upper-class women might never meet low-income men in a mating context, so she can focus her search on the eligible upper-class men. And polygyny may lurk beneath the surface; some women choose to be mistresses. This suggests that the dowry is the product of a market disequilibrium - a payment in lieu of the opportunity for multiple wives. Presumably, if polygyny were legalized, the market would clear, and dowries would disappear.

Polygyny creates winners and losers. For every man with two wives, there is a man with no wives.

So polygyny is no overall advantage for men; it is an advantage for attractive men and a disadvantage for unattractive men. Rather than socially imposed monogamy being an egalitarian victory for women, it may be unfortunate.

If there are any women with poor, unattractive husbands who would rather be the second wife of rich, attractive husbands, then they are worse off. And every time a man takes an extra wife, that's an extra competitor taken from the dating pool, leaving a favorable ratio of many men competing for a smaller pool of women, enabling the remaining women to marry the more attractive of the men. So perhaps socially-imposed monogamy occurred as part of a general disbursement of political power.

And monogamous societies tend to be more peaceful and stable. Sexually frustrated men are dangerous and prone to crime. Contemporary Western society is not monogamous, as it used to be. It is a society of serial monogamy, which involves the pernicious effects of polygyny dangerously sexless men without the benefits stable loving families.

Divorce rates have dramatically increased. There are many attractive men gaining an unequal share of women, so there are many men without any.

But when Darwin returned from his voyage on the HMS Beagle, he had earned fame as a naturalist who had made many original discoveries. He feared the loss of time, the family obligations, and the temptation towards fatness and idleness.

She was a year older than him, and not particularly beautiful. With Darwin's high status, why didn't he choose a young and beautiful wife? It seems that our opinion of our own social status is heavily influenced by our adolescence.

Darwin's success came in his twenties and later, but he didn't spend his adolescence as an alpha male. He seems to have underestimated his marriageability.

Wright points out that a low opinion of oneself can be adaptive; it prevented Darwin from marrying the kind of stunning woman who would draw attention from world-class philanderers and cheat on him. Emma said yes, and Darwin proclaimed his devotion in elaborate, articulate love letters. He wanted a wedding sooner rather than later, while Emma wanted a longer engagement.

Female sexual desire decreases during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Since a Victorian-era woman might spend a large proportion of her married life pregnant, Acton's dismissal of female sexual arousal from Chapter One might not be quite as misguided as it first appears.

It was very different from the marriage of his contemporary, Charles Dickens. After two decades and ten children, Dickens was a famous writer, commanding the attention of many young women, while his wife had aged and her fertile years were in the past. Dickens wrote to a friend, "I believe that no two people were ever created with such an impossibility of interest, sympathy, confidence, sentiment, tender union of any kind between them, as there is between my wife and me. Darwin's marriage was happy; Dickens' was not.

What accounts for the difference? This decreased his marriage marketability.

The chaste engagement secured Emma her Madonna status in Darwin's mind. Darwin lived two hours away from London, away from temptation. They had ten children, keeping Darwin focused on the investments he'd made.

When ardor fades, beware your impulse to blame it on marrying the wrong person, and beware your hope to get it right next time. Divorce statistics, Wright says, support Samuel Johnson's characterization of a man's decision to remarry as "the triumph of hope over experience.

This may be bad for women's long-term interests in marriage. Divorce has an unequal financial impact on men and women, because men typically orient their lives for a career while women may have invested time in child-rearing. Wright suggests that this inequality be legally rectified. Early feminists asserted that there were no differences between the sexes. This encouraged girls to indulge their sexual desires and ignore any visceral wariness.

It encouraged men to sleep around without worrying about emotional fall-out. The modern full-time housewife mother, spending her days at home alone with children, is in an unnatural state. Child-rearing used to be a job for the extended family. The modern life of career-oriented men - going to work each day in the company of similar people and returning to wife and children in the evening - is more natural, being similar to the lifestyle of a hunter.

To improve happiness and mental health, people should consider how to match their lifestyles to the lives they evolved to lead. Wright suggests that women seeking long-term commitments should avoid sex too early with men. He suggests two months of courtship before sex, maybe more, and predicts this is that society will move towards a custom of long courtship times before sex though doesn't predict a return to the Victorian extreme. He carefully notes that this is self-help advice, not moral advice.

A return to Victorian morality is impossible and though it has some benefits relative to serial monogamy, it had large and peculiar costs.

People were trapped in awful marriages; even married sex was tainted by guilt, especially for women; Victorian men probably weren't very good at sex; women were valued primarily for marriage, not on the same terms as men. Maybe there are other social systems that could sustain monogamous marriage, but they are likely to have large costs too. But compare it to the modern world "featuring, among other things: lots of fatherless children; lots of embittered women; lots of complaints about date rape and sexual harassment; and the frequent sight of lonely men renting X-rated videotapes while lonely women abound.

A varied coalition of interest groups team up against female promiscuity: there are males seeking long-term partners who won't cheat; parents of young, pretty girls who demand they "save" themselves so as to be good targets for male parental investment; these daughters themselves, threatened by the competition who give freely what they are trying to charge a high price for; and married women who fear an atmosphere of promiscuity could distract a man from his investment in his marriage and his children.

There is relative tolerance for male philandering. I've read the online excerpts, and I'm not highly impressed with their rigor and tone e. Some of the offered arguments from here and here include: Women typically take longer than men to become aroused, and they can stay aroused for many more orgasms than men.

This would be optimal for group sex with multiple men. Porn involving one woman and many men is much more popular than porn involving one man and many women.

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Cuckoldry is a popular male fantasy. Personally I suspect you could explain facts like these with other plausible consistent theories, but I don't have a Ph. How could a mutation for sterility enhance fitness? Consider a ground squirrel that, upon sighting a predator, delivers an alarm call, which attracts the predator's attention and brings sudden death.

How could a mutation for a suicidal alarm call enhance fitness? If you look at fitness from a gene's point of view, rather than an organism's point of view, the behavior of ants and bees and squirrels makes sense.

Genes expressed in sterile worker ants are transmitted by the queen; genes expressed in heroic squirrels are carried on by siblings. The same mechanism explains human altruism, and it explains why we are more altruistic to those we are more closely related to.

It was once common to speak of maximizing fitness, but now evolutionary biologists speak of "inclusive fitness" - a measure that includes not just the fitness of a particular organism, but of a gene's expression in siblings, cousins and so on. Consider the slime mold, an organism on the blurry edge between single-celled organisms and multi-celled organisms.

Slime-mold cells reproduce asexually, so they are all identical twins. From the point of view of the gene, the life of one cell is as valuable as the life of another. So some cells devote themselves instead to buffering fertile fellow cells from harsh conditions. Human bodies can be seen the same way. Only our sex cells - sperm and eggs - get to make copies of themselves for posterity.

The rest of the cells in the body devote themselves to giving the sex cells their best chance. Siblings share half their genes i. This will lead to some altruism or love, but not to the extent of the selfless ants or slime mold cells.

It even leads to a frustrating conflict: a child will regard herself as twice as valuable as a sibling the sibling having only half the relevant genes but the parent will value them both equally. Hence, human parents teach children to share with their siblings, and the children resist this advice.

A caribou calf will continue to suckle long after milk has ceased to be essential to its survival, even though this prevents the mother from conceiving another calf that will share some of its genes. The time will come when the nutritional rewards from suckling are so marginal that the genetic interest favors another calf over milk.

But the mother, valuing the two offspring equally, reaches that point sooner. Conflict over weaning is be a regular part of mammalian life.

The Moral Animal by Robert Wright: Summary & PDF

The conflict can last for several weeks and become pretty wild, as infants shriek for milk and even strike their mother. Children lie, exaggerate and throw temper tantrums to gain resources from parents.

Tantrums are a behavior shared among humans, chimpanzees, bonobos and other primates. Fitter parents can distinguish genuine cries for help from resource-stealing tricks. Parents lie, exaggerate and indoctrinate their children to share resources with siblings, aunts, uncles and other relatives of the parents. Fitter children can distinguish useful advice from resource-stealing tricks. Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers: "One is not permitted to assume that parents who attempt to impart such virtues as responsibility, decency, honesty, trustworthiness, generosity, and self-denial are merely providing the offspring with useful information on appropriate behavior in the local culture, for all such virtues are likely to affect the amount of altruistic and egoistic behavior impinging on the parent's kin, and parent and offspring are expected to view such behavior differently.

Males face a more uncertain future, but the rewards are correspondingly greater; a very fit man could have many more children than the fittest woman. Thus, for a poor low-status family, daughters are more valuable; they have a good chance of passing on genes. Sons are relatively less valuable, as a man with no resources is likely to die childless. The opposite is true of rich, high-status families: rich, high-status sons might have many more children than rich, high-status daughters.

Does reality match this cynical observation? It does: Florida pack rat mothers, if fed poorly, will force sons off the teat, even letting them starve to death, while daughters nurse freely.

In other species, even the birth ratio of males to females is affected, with mothers in the most auspicious condition having mostly sons and less advantaged mothers having mostly daughters. A study of North American families found pronounced differences in how indulgent the parents of different social classes are of boys and girls.

More than half of the daughters born to low-income women were breast-fed, while fewer than half of the sons were; around 60 percent of the daughters born to affluent women were breast-fed, and nearly 90 percent of the sons. And, more dramatically, low-income women, on average, had another child within 3. In other words: in the contest over how soon to create a sibling, low-income mothers are inclined to let a daughter win; they wait longer to produce a competing target for investment.

For affluent women, the opposite was true: daughters had a rival sibling within 3.

Presumably few if any mothers in the study knew how social status can affect the reproductive success of males and females or, strictly speaking, how it would have done so in the environment of our evolution.

This is another reminder that natural selection tends to work underground, by shaping human feelings, not by making humans conscious of its logic. Wright also notes that female infanticide, common in 19th century India and China, was most intensively practiced among the upper classes. Studies show that when a child dies, the intensity of a parent's grief increases according to the number of fertile years they would have had left in the ancestral environment, plus the resources already expended on the child.

Thus, an adolescent, who has been the target for years of investment and is about to become fertile, is the saddest death. A baby, yet to absorb many resources, or a year-old past her fertile prime, are less sad. This was shown in Darwin's life. He lost two children under the age of two, and one at the age of ten.

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He was much, much more grief-stricken about losing the ten-year-old. He wrote that primitive man "delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse I could not have believed how wide was the difference, between savage and civilized man.

It is greater than between a wild and domesticated animal. Chimpanzees make friends; cows surround and stare at their dying fellows; crows feed blind compatriots. But how did humans get such a complex moral instinct, particularly one so wide in scope that people will, in some circumstances, help complete strangers?

Darwin succumbed to the trap of group selectionism, an idea that has foiled many biologists since. He wrote: "there can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection.

Before it can compete in inter-tribe competition, it must first succeed in intra-tribe competition.

In modern times, group selectionism is widely regarded as a trap. The Prisoner's Dilemma where the two prisoners can't communicate is somewhat similar to the situation of two animals who can't speak, and therefore can't communicate. They might benefit from cooperation, but how can they organize that, when cheating is also possible? Humans have many opportunities for positive-sum interactions. Two cavemen might be able to cooperate to hunt an animal too powerful to be killed by one man.

A human might specialize in hide-splicing and another in spear-crafting, and they might gain from trade. Or they might share information, which can be radically positive-sum since information is not consumed, but copied.

Information sharing - that is, gossiping - can be very beneficial. Knowing where a great stock of food has been found, or where someone encountered a poisonous snake, can be a matter of life or death. And knowing who is sleeping with whom, who is angry at whom, who cheated whom, and so on, can inform social maneuvering for sex and other vital resources.

Wright borrows extensively from Charles Darwin 's better-known publications, including On the Origin of Species , but also from his chronicles and personal writings, illustrating behavioral principles with Darwin's own biographical examples. The New York Times Book Review chose The Moral Animal as one of the 12 best books of ; it was a national bestseller and has been published in 12 languages.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Moral Animal Cover of the first edition. June 26, The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit. Times Books, , p. Retrieved from " https: Hidden categories: Pages to import images to Wikidata All stub articles.Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Start on. How can altruism make sense?

The funny thing is that since the best way to deceive others is to actually believe the lie, we often tend to self deceive ourselves first read Predictably Irrational for more info on the irrationality of our brain.

Guilt and Knowledge We are more likely to feel guilty if we can get caught. You just clipped your first slide!