Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil

Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil

by Paul Bloom
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Overview

Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom

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 to The Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing, Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307886859
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 11/11/2014
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 170,439
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. He is the author or editor of six books, including the acclaimed How Pleasure Works. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, and his scientific and popular articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Nature, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Science, Slate, The Best American Science Writing, and many other publications. He lives in New Haven with his wife and two sons. Visit his website at paulbloomatyale.com and follow him on Twitter at @paulbloomatyale.

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Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is roughly 150 of examples of studies done on babies and todlers and how the writer and others interprets the results. It was more of a research paper that jumped from topic to topic than a book with topics that blended well together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago