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Is Morality All About Cooperation?

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Morality can often seem pretty diverse. There are moral rules governing our physical and sexual interactions with other human beings; there are moral rules relating to how we treat and respect property; there are moral rules concerning the behaviour of officials in government office; and, according to some religions, there are even moral rules for how we prepare and eat food. Is there anything that unites all these moral rules? Is there a single explanatory root for morality as a whole? According to the theory of Morality As Cooperation (MAC for short), there is. Originally developed by Oliver Scott Curry, the MAC claims that all human moral rules have their origin in attempts to solve problems of cooperation. Since there are many such problems, and many potential solutions to those problems, there are consequently many diverse forms of morality. Nevertheless, despite this diversity, if you unpick the basic logic of all moral rules, you can link them back to an attempt to solve a problem of cooperation. This is obviously a bold theory. It is highly reductive in the sense that it holds that all of human morality can be reduced to a single underlying phenomenon: cooperation. People will rightly ask if the diverse forms of human morality really are reducible in this way. Does MAC effectively capture the lived reality of human moral systems? Does it simply explain away the diversity and plurality? These are legitimate questions. Nevertheless, if true, MAC has some exciting implications. It tells us something about the basic structure of all moral systems. It also tells us something about the possible future forms of morality. If a purported moral rule does not ultimately link back to an attempt to resolve a cooperative problem, MAC predicts that it will not be accepted or respected as a moral rule. If a social or technical development threatens or undermines an existing solution to a cooperative problem, it is likely to force us to generate new forms of morality. I. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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