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Moral values are things held to be right or wrong or desirable or undesirable. While morality is sometimes described as 'innate' in humans, the scientific view is that a capacity for morality is genetically determined in us[How to reference and link to summary or text], but the set of moral values is acquired, through example, teaching, and imprinting from parents and society. Different cultures have very different moral value systems. Moral values, along with traditions, laws, behaviour patterns, and beliefs, are the defining features of a culture.

In Evolutionary psychology, moral values are seen as part of cultural evolution. Nationalists believe that a society needs one set of values to hold it together, and that 'multiculturalism' is not desirable as it tends to lead to conflict. People with shared values reduce conflict within a group and make reciprocal altruism possible. Diverse interests is one mechanism promoting the 'Tragedy of the commons', in which individuals pursuing their own interests exhaust resources that could be collectively managed.

Moral values are enforced by example, parenting, peer guidance, conscience, disapproval, shunning, and only in some instances by law. They were effective in small communities before laws were formalised. They can also be sustained by the concept of 'status', a concept which has many different meanings in different societies. There is today significant disagreement over what role status plays in contemporary society and of what it actually consists.

See also

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