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Marc Hauser's eminently readable and comprehensive book Moral Minds is revolutionary. He argues that humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion. Experience tunes up our moral actions, guiding what we do as opposed to how we deliver our moral verdicts.
For hundreds of years, scholars have argued that moral judgments arise from rational and voluntary deliberations about what ought to be. The common belief today is that we reach moral decisions by consciously reasoning from principled explanations of what society determines is right or wrong. This perspective has generated the further belief that our moral psychology is founded entirely on experience and education, developing slowly and subject to considerable variation across cultures. In his groundbreaking book, Hauser shows that this dominant view is illusory.
Combining his own cutting-edge research with findings in cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, and anthropology, he examines the implications of his theory for issues of bioethics, religion, law, and our everyday lives.
“About one of the hottest new topics in intellectual life: the psychology and biology of morals. . . fascinating.”
-Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
“An account of the nature of the human moral organ . . . a lucid, expert and challenging introduction.”
-Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, MIT
“An intellectual feast that provokes thought and should stimulate critical reflection . . . a major contribution to an ongoing debate.”
-Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
“The most complete attempt to bring together philosophy, anthropology, cognitive science and neuroscience... daring and wise.”
-Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California
“The scientific exploration of morality has advanced at a breathtaking pace… [an] enjoyable book.”
-Daniel Kahneman, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University, and 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics
“For a wide audience...a superb overview of one of the hottest topics in the life sciences...a treat.”
“An audacious claim about moral thought...highly accessible to a general audience...a deeply significant intellectual contribution.”
“Unlikely to disappoint.”
-Nicholas Wade, New York Times
“Pathbreaking... relevant to some of the most fundamental contemporary debates in philosophy and public life.”
-New York Review of Books