The Origins of Good and EvilBook - 2013
A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone.
From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justice.
Still, this innate morality is limited, sometimes tragically. We are naturally hostile to strangers, prone to parochialism and bigotry. Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race.
In his analysis of the morality of children and adults, Bloom rejects the fashionable view that our moral decisions are driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases. Just as reason has driven our great scientific discoveries, he argues, it is reason and deliberation that makes possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Ultimately, it is through our imagination, our compassion, and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we were born with, becoming more than just babies.
Paul Bloom has a gift for bringing abstract ideas to life, moving seamlessly from Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith toThe Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing,Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives.
Baker & Taylor
"A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. From Sigmund Freud to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long believed that we begin life as amoral animals. After all, isn't it the parents' role to turn babies into civilized beings who can experience empathy and shame, and override selfish impulses? In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing upon years of original research at his Yale lab, he shows that babies and toddlers can judge the goodness and badness of others' actions; that they act to soothe those in distress; and that they feel guilt, shame, pride, and righteous anger. Yet this innate morality is tragically limited. Our natural strong moral feelings toward those in our own group--same family, same race--are offset by ingrained dislike, even hatred, of those in different groups. Put more simply, we are natural-born bigots. Vivid and intellectually probing, Just Babies argues that throughintelligence and creativity we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we are born with. This erudite yet accessible book will captivate readers of Steven Pinker, Philip Zimbardo, and Robert Wright"--
A leading cognitive scientist argues that a human sense of morality is genetically innate, drawing on years of original research at Yale to challenge psychological beliefs and explain how morality is a limited behavior that is subject to a natural hatred of different groups and a species-unique capacity for reason.
Argues that a human sense of morality is genetically innate, drawing on years of research at Yale to challenge psychological beliefs and explain how morality is a limited behavior that is subject to a natural hatred of different groups and a species-unique capacity for reason.