Study Guide: The Moral Animal
Introduction
Speculate: What do think is the significance of the frontpage quote: “This was the love he should have felt for every soul in the world: all the fear the wish to save concentrated unjustly on the one child…”

Answer for yourself the questions about human nature posed on p. 5
Describe what is meant by dual nature of human nature: “knobs and mechanisms for tuning knobs”
Describe the three groundbreaking books published in 1859 and the connections among them.

Chapter 1
Describe the religious and social outlook of the Darwin household
Describe Darwin’s early education and career plans
Describe the basics of natural selection. Why did Huxley think he was “stupid” not to have thought of it?
What are the two kinds of women explicitly described in Victorian society? From where do these attitudes originate?

Chapter 2
What is the built-in asymmetry that leads to male competition over females?
Why is the notion of the “ancestral environment” (or the EEA) critical for understanding the evolved nature of the human mind?
Describe Bateman’s studies and how copulatory frequency differential affects male and female reproductive success. How does this affect behavior?
What is parental investment and how does it explain differences in male and female sexual behavior? How do “oddball” species such as phalarope provide exceptions that prove the rule?
Give examples of how female choice operates in primate social/sexual behavior

Chapter 3
What is MPI and why are humans high in it?
What do women want in a (long term) male mate and why?
What is the mixed strategy and what role might deception play in this?
Is seduction and abandonment (“womanizing”) a distinct male reproductive strategy?
What do men what and why?
What is cuckoldry and what evolved strategies might men have to avoid it?
Why might a women cheat?
What evidence is there of the long evolutionary history of female infidelity?
What is the Madonna-whore dichotomy what function might it serve as male reproductive strategy?
Describe the “Coming of Age in Somoa” Affair, and its significance.
Describe how environmental information can play a role in the adoption of a specific reproductive strategy
Why might women be more interested in looks when assessing a short-term sex partner?
How might the availability of “investing” men influence the degree of promiscuity in women; and likewise how does perceived promiscuity in women affect the probability of “investing” men?
Why might a man become less tolerant of his wife’s nagging after 20 years of marriage?
 

Chapter 4
What is the difference between economically- and socially-imposed monogamy and what role does dowry play in this distinction?
Describe how it is that men, not women, are the primary beneficiaries of monogamy
Why are monogamous societies generally more stable compared to polygynous ones?
What is serial monogamy and why does the author call it the worst of all worlds?
How does economic stratification present a destabilizing force to marriage?

Chapter 5
What pros and cons did Darwin list for marriage?
As young high status male, why would Darwin (in contrast to the very theory that bears his name) marry an older, no so beautiful wife?
Why might Emma have been attracted to Charles?
What might have been the evolutionary “wisdom” in the Victorian disapproval of pre-marital sex?
What is meant by the “mate ejection” module and what affect might it have on marital stability?

Chapter 6
Why might copious images of beautiful women have a negative effect on a husband’s attitude toward his wife more than vice-versa?
Evaluate the Darwinian marriage tips for men
Why does the author believe that easy divorce has been bad for women and what remedy does he propose for that?
Contrast the modern view of “respecting” women with the Victorian view
In what way is the “traditional” family unnatural for women?
Describe the Emma plan for successful marriage
Describe how male investing behavior (dad vs. cad) and female sexual behavior (Madonna vs. whore) reinforce one another and creating positive feedback spirals
What is evolutionary rationale behind the sexual double standard?
Describe the various social factors that tend to reinforce the sexual double standard – is this something we can or should get rid of?

Chapter 7
What is kin selection and how does it move the focus of natural selection off of individuals and onto genes?
Describe the evolution forces that give rise to parent-offspring conflict
How does the sex of child and the families’ economic status affect the degree to which parents are motivated to invest in the child and why?
Under what circumstances would evolutionary theory predict that parents experience the greatest grief over a child’s loss?

Chapter 8
What is group selection and what is its major flaw?

Chapter 9
Describe the prisoner’s dilemma game and what it indicates about human cooperation.
What is non-zero-summness mean? And what is it relevance in the evolution of cooperation?
How might reciprocal altruism gotten started in our evolutionary past?
What role might the emotions of guilt and moral indignation have played in the evolution of cooperation?

Chapter 10
Describe the chief moral influences in Darwin’s early life, who were they and what affect did they have?
Are children natural-born liars? Why might this be?
How might a “short-time horizon” of the criminal mind be adaptive response and how does that contrast with requisite conditions for morality (as based on reputation)?
Consider the “hypocrisy” vs. “morality” of the Victorian ethos. Did it make for a better or worse (more moral or less moral) society compared to today?

Chapters 11 & 12
What was Darwin’s interest in barnacles (both conscious and not-so-conscious)?
Describe how a dominance hierarchy can actually promote peace and cooperation? – why would subordinates continue to be part of the hierarchy?
Compare chimpanzee hierarchies, both male and female, to those of humans.
Describe the chimpanzee politics of Yeroen, Nikkie, and Luit
If nature did not ‘invent’ social hierarchy for the ‘good of the group’ then why is it there?
If hierarchy is ‘natural’ then is it good? Should or can we eliminate it if we want?

Chapter 13
What evolutionary function might self-esteem, either low or high, serve?
Why might wives be inclined to ‘falsely subordinate’ themselves to their husbands?
Discuss the significance of the quote: “It is possible to argue that the primary evolutionary function of the self is to be an organ of impression management (rather than…a decision-maker)”
Describe how the game of chicken and the “voluntary but irreversible sacrifice of freedom of choice” plays into the psychology of conflict.
Why might self-deception be in our evolutionary self-interests?
How are reciprocal altruism and social status connected?

Chapter 14
How does Darwin’s relationship with Henslow and FitzRoy reflect the reciprocity/status tradeoff?
How does Darwin’s relationship to his father suggest an adaptive role for the sometimes painful aspects of parent-child relationships?
How was Alfred Russel Wallace and what threat did he pose to Darwin?
How did Darwin deal with the threat and what evolutionary strategies appear to have been involved in his reaction?

Chapter 16
What is the naturalistic fallacy and what does it suggest about origin of moral values?
Why did evolution make Darwin question the Christian notion of God?
Describe Mill’s version of Utilitarianism
In what way does the Darwinian view of human nature better inform our moral inclinations (especially when it comes to our moral justifications of our own behavior).

Chapter 17
Distinguish between “genetic determinism” and “biological determinism” and how do each relate to the concept of free will?
Why wasn’t Darwin worried about the implication of an evolutionary view of human nature? Was his indifference justified?
Discuss the legal implications abandoning the concept of free
Discuss Mills view of hedonism?  Was it justifiable with his Utilitarianism?

Chapter 18
Discuss how religion’s call for self-restraint and the avoidance of (too much) sensory pleasure take on a new meaning in light of an Darwinian view of human nature.
Describe how a Darwinian view of human nature helps us better understand the challenges of developing a truly “universal compassion” or brotherly love – what role does or has religion played in this?
What are the implications of a species with conscious, sympathy, and love all grounded ultimately in genetic self-interest?