In a new book, anthropologist Christopher Boehm traces the steps our species went through to attain a conscience
Why do people show kindness to others, even those outside their families, when they do not stand to benefit from it? Being generous without that generosity being reciprocated does not advance the basic evolutionary drive to survive and reproduce.
Christopher Boehm, an evolutionary anthropologist, is the director of the Jane Goodall Research Center at the University of Southern California. For 40 years, he has observed primates and studied different human cultures to understand social and moral behavior. In his new book, Moral Origins, Boehm speculates that human morality emerged along with big game hunting. When hunter-gatherers formed groups, he explains, survival essentially boiled down to one key tenet—cooperate, or die.