Reveals how humans have evolved from social primates into moral primates, exploring the implications of fuzzy logic, fate, free will, and ecology, among other issues affecting the way humans think about moral issues.
"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 through intelligence 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"--
Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger's: All of these syndromes have one thing in common--lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world. In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse. Based largely on Baron-Cohen's own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.
First published: Paris: Odile Jacob, c2011.
Tomas Sedlacek has shaken the study of economics as few ever have. Named one of the "Young Guns" and one of the "five hot minds in economics" by the Yale Economic Review, he serves on the National Economic Council in Prague, where his provocative writing has achieved bestseller status. How has he done it? By arguing a simple, almost heretical proposition: economics is ultimately about good and evil. In The Economics of Good and Evil, Sedlacek radically rethinks his field, challenging our assumptions about the world. Economics is touted as a science, a value-free mathematical inquiry, he writes, but it's actually a cultural phenomenon, a product of our civilization. It began within philosophy--Adam Smith himself not only wrote The Wealth of Nations, but also The Theory of Moral Sentiments--and economics, as Sedlacek shows, is woven out of history, myth, religion, and ethics. "Even the most sophisticated mathematical model," Sedlacek writes, "is, de facto, a story, a parable, our effort to (rationally) grasp the world around us." Economics not only describes the world, but establishes normative standards, identifying ideal conditions. Science, he claims, is a system of beliefs to which we are committed. To grasp the beliefs underlying economics, he breaks out of the field's confines with a tour de force exploration of economic thinking, broadly defined, over the millennia. He ranges from the epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament to the emergence of Christianity, from Descartes and Adam Smith to the consumerism in Fight Club. Throughout, he asks searching meta-economic questions: What is the meaning and the point of economics? Can we do ethically all that we can do technically? Does it pay to be good? Placing the wisdom of philosophers and poets over strict mathematical models of human behavior, Sedlacek's groundbreaking work promises to change the way we calculate economic value.
Bestselling author Michael Shermer delves into the unknown, from heretical ideas about the boundaries of the universe to Star Trek's lessons about chance and time A scientist pretends to be a psychic for a day-and fools everyone. An athlete discovers that good-luck rituals and getting into "the zone" may, or may not, improve his performance. A historian decides to analyze the data to see who was truly responsible for the Bounty mutiny. A son explores the possiblities of alternative and experimental medicine for his cancer-ravaged mother. And a skeptic realizes that it is time to turn the skeptical lens onto science itself. In each of the fourteen essays in Science Friction, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer explores the very personal barriers and biases that plague and propel science, especially when scientists push against the unknown. What do we know and what do we not know? How does science respond to controversy, attack, and uncertainty? When does theory become accepted fact? As always, Shermer delivers a thought-provoking, fascinating, and entertaining view of life in the scientific age.
"This timely, accessible reference and text addresses some of the most fundamental questions about human behavior, such as what causes racism and prejudice and why good people do bad things. Leading authorities present state-of-the-science theoretical and empirical work. Essential themes include the complex interaction of individual, societal, and situational factors underpinning good or evil behavior; the role of moral emotions, unconscious bias, and the self-concept; issues of responsibility and motivation; and how technology and globalization have enabled newer forms of threat and harm. Key Words/Subject Areas: aggression, altruism, antisocial, evil, free will, good, guilt, heroism, human behavior, morality, prejudice, prosocial, racism, shame, social psychology, stereotyping, terrorism, values, violence Audience: Students and researchers in social psychology; also of interest to sociologists. "--
Decades after a famous theologian has a profound near-death experience, former priest Ian Baringer searches for the theologian's missing journal at the side of agnostic psychologist Angela Weber, with whom he confronts a shadowy cult.
The Socratic Turn addresses the question of whether we can acquire genuine knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong. Reputedly, Socrates was the first philosopher to make the attempt. But Socrates was a materialistic natural scientist in his youth, and it was only much later in life—after he had rejected materialistic natural science—that he finally turned, around the age of forty, to the examination of ordinary moral and political opinions, or to moral-political philosophy so understood. Through a consideration of Plato's account of Socrates' intellectual development, and with a view to relevant works of the pre-Socratics, Xenophon, Aristotle, Hesiod, Homer, and Aristophanes, Dustin Sebell reproduces the course of thought that carried Socrates from materialistic natural science to moral-political philosophy. By doing so, he seeks to recover an all but forgotten approach to the question of justice, one still worthy of being called scientific.
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case. It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
“A landmark book in the science of emotions and its implications for ethics and human universals.”—Library Journal, starred review In this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short,” why have we evolved with positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and cooperative societies? Illustrated with more than fifty photographs of human emotions, Born to Be Good takes us on a journey through scientific discovery, personal narrative, and Eastern philosophy. Positive emotions, Keltner finds, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior—and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better. Some images in this ebook are not displayed owing to permissions issues.
Revised and Expanded Edition. In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, "Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things," Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science. Shermer, science historian and true crusader, also reveals the more dangerous side of such illogical thinking, including Holocaust denial, the recovered-memory movement, the satanic ritual abuse scare, and other modern crazes. Why People Believe Strange Things is an eye-opening resource for the most gullible among us and those who want to protect them.
Have you ever wondered why a trumpeter of family values would suddenly turn around and cheat on his wife? Why jealousy would send an otherwise level-headed person into a violent rage? What could drive a person to blow a family fortune at the blackjack tables? Or have you ever pondered what might make Mr. Right leave his beloved at the altar, why hypocrisy seems to be rampant, or even why, every once in awhile, even you are secretly tempted, to lie, cheat, or steal (or, conversely, help someone you never even met)? This book answers these questions and more, and in doing so, turns the prevailing wisdom about who we are upside down. Our character, argue psychologists DeSteno and Valdesolo, isn’t a stable set of traits, but rather a shifting state that is subject to the constant push and pull of hidden mechanisms in our mind. And it's the battle between these dueling psychological forces that determine how we act at any given point in time. Drawing on the surprising results of the clever experiments concocted in their own laboratory, DeSteno and Valdesolo shed new scientific light on so many of the puzzling behaviors that regularly grace the headlines. For example, you’ll learn: • Why Tiger Woods just couldn’t resist the allure of his mistresses even though he had a picture-perfect family at home. And why no one, including those who knew him best, ever saw it coming. • Why even the shrewdest of investors can be tempted to gamble their fortunes away (and why risky financial behavior is driven by the same mechanisms that compel us to root for the underdog in sports). • Why Eliot Spitzer, who made a career of crusading against prostitution, turned out to be one of the most famous johns of all time. • Why Mel Gibson, a noted philanthropist and devout Catholic, has been repeatedly caught spewing racist rants, even though close friends say he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. • And why any of us is capable of doing the same, whether we believe it or not! A surprising look at the hidden forces driving the saint and sinner lurking in us all, Out of Character reveals why human behavior is so much more unpredictable than we ever realized. From the Hardcover edition.
Do good and evil exist? Absolutely. In this bracing book, the eminent Dutch philosopher Andreas Kinneging turns fashionable thinking on its head, revealing how good and evil are objective, universal, and unchanging—and how they must be rediscovered in our age. In mapping the geography of good and evil, Kinneging reclaims, and reintroduces us to, the great tradition of ancient and Christian thought. Traditional wisdom enables us to address the eternal questions of good and evil that confront us in both public and private life. Though it is common to accept uncritically the blessings of modernity and its intellectual sources, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Kinneging shows that traditional thinking is richer and more realistic. Indeed, we see how, in more than a few respects, the Enlightenment and Romanticism brought not progress but deterioration. Kinneging skillfully reformulates and defends the insights of traditional thinking for today’s readers, demonstrating how an objective morality is to be understood and how we can know what morality demands of us. At a time when the traditional virtues have practically disappeared from our language (that is, all but one—“tolerance”), he lays out the foundations of virtue and vice. Ultimately, Kinneging reveals the lasting significance of these seemingly archaic notions—to our own lives, to our families, to our culture, and to civilization. This profound, award-winning work establishes Andreas Kinneging as one of our wisest moral philosophers. “Shows with utmost clarity the virtue of intellectual courage . . . A brilliant model for sallies against our dark age.” —The Intercollegiate Review “[Kinneging is] leader of a conservative intellectual revival in the Netherlands.” —New York Times Magazine
This book describes the application of Artificial Life simulation to evolutionary scenarios of wide ethical interest, including the evolution of altruism, rape and abortion, providing a new meaning to “experimental philosophy”. The authors also apply evolutionary ALife techniques to explore contentious issues within evolutionary theory itself, such as the evolution of aging. They justify these uses of simulation in science and philosophy, both in general and in their specific applications here. Evolving Ethics will be of interest to researchers, enthusiasts, students and interested lay readers in the fields of Artificial Life, philosophy of science, ethics, agent- and individual-based modeling in ecology and the social sciences, computer simulation, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology and the social sciences.
Wish you could go to the School for Good and Evil? Now you can! Join the ranks of heroes and villains who have walked these hallowed halls and mastered what it takes to be placed in their own fairy tales with The Ever Never Handbook. Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling series (The School for Good and Evil, A World Without Princes, and The Last Ever After) comes to life in this handbook full of everything students need to learn in order to survive their own fairy tale—from dress codes and school rules to alumni portraits, kingdom maps, and much, much more. Every year, students flock to the School for Good and Evil, ready to prepare for life in a fairy tale. The highest-ranked students become the heroes and villains of the fairy tales, while the lowest end up enchanted animals or plants (if they’re lucky, that is). This handbook is a personal guide to help students to the top of their class—from surviving Uglification, to picking your own sidekick or henchman, to earning a part in the yearly school musical, and so much more. And of course, it’s in glorious full color and duotone because in the School for Good and Evil, very little is black-and-white.
"Philosophy, economics, and biology have rarely been so entertaining."--Matt Ridley, author of Genome Paul J. Zak's proclivity for taking blood samples has earned him a nickname as the "vampire economist." But his sanguinary habit is backed by his scientific quest: What if there was a master switch for human behavior? On, and people are loving and generous. Off, and they revert to violence and greed. By studying thousands of blood samples, Zak has pinpointed just such a switch: a brain chemical called oxytocin. Sprinting around the globe and into the human brain, The Moral Molecule is a dazzling narrative as erudite and entertaining as bestsellers like Flow, Drive, and Why We Love.
Calls for an end to religion's role in dictating morality, demonstrating how the scientific community's understandings about the human brain may enable the establishment of secular codes of behavior.
From the author of Animal Liberation, an examination of the chasm between the words and actions of George W. Bush, who claimed the moral high ground more than any president in recent US history During his time in public office, George W. Bush framed a striking number of his major policies and initiatives with the concepts of good and evil. From his christening of the “axis of evil” to the wars in the Middle East to his condemnation of stem cell research, Bush consistently deployed moral language in discussions of the day’s major issues. But to what degree could his moral philosophy be considered coherent? In The President of Good & Evil, Peter Singer offers an eye-opening analysis of the ethical outlook of America’s forty-third president. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Peter Singer, including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

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