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A Natural History of Human Morality

A Natural History of Human Morality

Michael Tomasello

ISBN 9780674915855

Publication date: 01/04/2016

Winner of the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award in Developmental Psychology, American Psychological Association
Winner of a PROSE Award, Association of American Publishers
Shortlist, Cognitive Development Society Book Award
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

A Natural History of Human Morality offers the most detailed account to date of the evolution of human moral psychology. Based on extensive experimental data comparing great apes and human children, Michael Tomasello reconstructs how early humans gradually became an ultra-cooperative and, eventually, a moral species.

“Tomasello is convincing, above all, because he has run many of the relevant studies (on chimps, bonobos and children) himself. He concludes by emphasizing the powerful influence of broad cultural groups on modern humans… Tomasello also makes an endearing guide, appearing happily amazed that morality exists at all.”
—Michael Bond, New Scientist

“Most evolutionary theories picture humans as amoral ‘monads’ motivated by self-interest. Tomasello presents an innovative and well-researched, hypothesized natural history of two key evolutionary steps leading to full-blown morality.”
—S. A. Mason, Choice


  • 2017, Winner of the PROSE Awards
  • 2018, Winner of the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award


  • Michael Tomasello is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. From 1998 to 2018 he was Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and in 2017 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His scientific work has been recognized by institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Foundation, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Netherlands, and the German National Academy of Sciences.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press

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