Bending the Rules: Morality in the Modern World - From by Robert A. Hinde

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By Robert A. Hinde

Robert Aubrey Hinde is a recognized zoologist and peace activist, being the chair of the British Pugwash, an foreign clash solution association based by way of Joseph Rotblat (a contributor to this publication) and preeminent thinker Bertrand Russell. He used to be mentor to either the developmental psychologist John Bowlby and the primatologists Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Hinde describes this booklet as an program of evolutionary biology and psychology to ethical idea, with the purpose of unveiling the chance and immorality of warfare.

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SELFISH ASSERTIVENESS, STATUS, AND THE ‘VIRTUE’ OF HUMILITY We have seen selfish assertiveness as a source of behaviour that may be interpreted as ‘bad’ by parents in infancy, and as a source of selfish autonomy in later years. And I have written as though the main purpose of morality is to hold it in check. But one must not be too hasty. Some degree of selfish assertiveness is essential for individual survival, and what matters is the balance. Even to enter a relationship often requires at some level a degree of selfish assertiveness, though profitable interactions with others would not be possible without the virtues stemming from prosociality (pp.

Thus in everyday life individuals are exposed to diverse influences. It has been suggested that we select those that will affect us as the result of three biases. We may simply copy what seems to be common in the group: ‘crazes’ spread largely because individuals conform to the examples set by others (frequency-dependent bias). This makes sense in that what most people do or think is likely to be the most beneficial thing to do or think in the group’s circumstances: it also makes us feel at one with the group (see p.

Where property was involved, a concept of possession or ownership is implied. In due course these understandings became formalized. This could have been facilitated by the tendency to conformism, which we have already seen as likely to have been characteristic of early human groups (see pp. –). If successful groups were those with high levels of prosociality and cooperation, conformism could have 54 Ethics and Law led to what most people do becoming what they were expected to do. The formalization of precepts may have been the joint result of the experience of individuals and/or the insistence of charismatic Moses-like figures, motivated either by their own wishes or the good of the group.

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