Over thousands of years, humans have evolved mechanisms to help us live together in ever-larger social groups. We developed a set of 'moral emotions' such as empathy, guilt and outrage, as well as a tendency to favour people in our in-groups and a propensity to punish perceived wrongdoers. Our culture also evolved, giving us powerful tools like religion and politics that could expand community sizes and maintain moral order.
While these mechanisms served our ancestors well, though, seeing morality in such black and white terms is not right for the complex world of today. Social media can turn outrage into an addiction, gender equality is still hampered by caveman thinking, and implicit bias turns to explicit oppression. How can we shake off our innate ideas of how to live now that they don't quite match up with the modern world? How do we separate what's natural from what's right?
Here one of Australia's brightest philosophers charts the evolution of morality from the first humans to today, and shows us how we can turn towards a better future.