Moral Sentiments

Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, posited that there are common moral emotions and feelings that underlie human social behavior. Smith wondered if there existed an innate sense of morality in humans, independent of teaching or social norms. Scientists now believe that moral sentiments such as generosity, altruism, and empathy may indeed have physiological drivers. HOME (Human Oxytocin-Mediated Empathy) is a model for the neurological system that dictates moral sentiments. Although the degree to which an individual expresses sentiments is dependent upon personal experiences, such as how much positive attention a person received during childhood, this physiologically basis of moral sentiments is considered universal.