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Morals: the weapon of the weak and dumb, or a civilizing force?

I am now summarizing the wonderful Geoffrey Miller's "The Dating Mind".

And among the many golden nuggets, the one describing morals as a defensive play against fitness indicators stood out.
Miller talks indeed about culture and values as a way to discourage the display of fitness indicators.

Fitness indicators are anything that says "I'm valuable, mate with me".
It includes physical prowess, beauty, intelligence, resources, etc.

However, if you have noticed, the overt display of any of the above is discouraged and frowned upon by much of society.
Why?

Well, here is what Miller has to say about it:

I think it is no coincidence (that the display of fitness indicator is discouraged).
Look at it this way: our human norms and values developed as reactions to patterns of natural human behavior that we decided should be discouraged. If a great deal of human behavior consists of advertising one's fitness, and if many ways of doing that impose social costs on others, and if moral norms develop to minimize social costs, then a lot of moral norms should be aimed directly against the irresponsible use of fitness indicators.

And further:

We value egalitarianism because it protects the majority from aspiring despots intent on power and polyginy.
These norms do not just fall randomly from the sky. They emerged as moral instincts and cultural inventions to combat the excesses of sexual self-advertisement and sexual competition.

In brief: morals serve to protect the majority of not-so-fit individuals against the few hyper-fit individuals that would otherwise hog too many mates and resources for themselves.

Morals are nothing but another tool to fight the sexual war.
Or are they?

Morals Preserve The Species

That is not to  say, however, that morals do not serve a purpose.

Morals help shape a more egalitarian society.
We can argue over whether that's even a good thing or not, but morals also help decrease infighting.

Without morals, we'd be engaged in an endless war of "fitness advertisement".
Good for the few ones who win that war -usually the higher fitness individuals-, but potentially poor for the species as war and fights would take more and more of our time and resources.

Cooperation and collaboration would decrease, and our civilization as a whole might suffer.

Morals help us make a more collaborative species.

Morals: An Opportunity For Social Finessing

Finally, without morals, social and sexual contests would be easy: show what you've got, and who's got more, wins.

But morals make the game more complex, and more refined.

But by leveraging morals, it's possible to cast the overly obvious fitness advertisers as tacky, antisocial or even "dumb" and "overcompensating".

Thus, the abs-selfie becomes tacky. The red Ferrari becomes overcompensation. The physically threatening becomes violent. And the winning debater becomes overpowering or verbally aggressive (see Ben Shapiro).

Morals make the contests murkier, and more complex.

Smart players can leverage -or manipulate- morals and values to play the game at a different level. They might even avoid "wars of advertisements" altogether by playing the "superior" card. And they might ultimately fight and win the war even with less fitness and resources.
Morals and values provide more room for maneuvering, and for motivated Davids to beat the Goliaths of this world.

It's great being humans, isn't it :).

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