Book Chapter

What is the function of morality?


The function of morality is a matter of what morality is ‘for’, what its purpose is or what goal it is designed to achieve. This chapter shows that the appeal to the distinction between why-questions and how-questions defeats any challenge to the point and legitimacy of asking the question as to the function of morality. One of the most interesting, well-developed and important versions of the view that morality has a cooperative function has been developed by Michael Tomasello as part of a broader project concerned with the origins of human cognition. It will be instructive to consider Tomasello’s perspective on morality in some detail. Tomasello’s goal is to provide what he calls a ‘natural history of morality’, an account of how morality developed in the human species. Morality is something that emerged in the species as a result of a process of intellectual reflection and subsequent insight into our situation when we attempt to cooperate.

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Cain, Mark J.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of History, Philosophy and Culture


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-11-23

All rights reserved.

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of What is the function of morality?
This RADAR resource is Part of Teleology and modernity [ISBN: 9780815351030] / edited by William Gibson, Dan O'Brien, Marius Turda.


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