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This project aims to articulate the conditions under which moral capital development is facilitated and enhanced. As the political philosopher Adam Smith noted in his seminal Theory of Moral Sentiments, “The wise and virtuous man is at all times willing that his own private interest should be sacrificed to the public interest of his own particular order or society.” That wisdom and virtue can be seen as constituting the moral capital of a community, capital that can then generate more prosperity and well being for society as a whole
Understanding the conditions that create and deplete moral capital in individuals and communities will enable us to design better curricular and other interventions to more effectively build moral capital and accelerate our shared prosperity and well being.
This project will craft education policy and curricular recommendations informed by economic theory and policy history in concert with recent science of human evolution and development.
The focus of this project will be on areas of scholarship that have not generally, either separately or jointly, been brought to bear on the question of moral education: evolutionary and developmental biology and political and economic thought. We do so in order to redirect the aims of such education away from moral development of individuals (i.e., attempting to make them ‘more moral’) to the development of a stock of moral capital at the social/system level, capital that can generate more prosperity for society as a whole. Our budding conception of moral capital will draw on the rich and diverse resources of evolutionary and developmental biology and political and economic thought, brought together uniquely to resolve the pressing challenge of building a better us.
Scholarship in economic and political thought deals extensively with the forces of competition and cooperation and their functioning in free-market economies. So too, biology speaks to the workings of the original free-market - reproduction. Over millions of years natural selection has surfaced the behaviors, characteristics, adaptations that lead to reproductive success - an intergenerational transfer of wealth in the most profound sense. So we look to evolutionary and developmental biology for insight on how competition and cooperation have shaped human development and human behavior and to economic and political thought for how these forces can maximize the prosperity and the potential of human societies. Combining insights from these disparate domains will help us generate a.