In Just Babies, cognitive scientist Paul Bloom argues that good and evil is bred in the bone
Humans are hardwired with a sense of morality
- Imprint: Crown Publishers
- On sale: November 12, 2013
- Price: $26.00
- Pages: 288
- ISBN: 9780307886842
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
“Insightful [and] frequently funny…Bloom manages to translate abstract principles into clear, readable prose, making complex material accessible to the layperson without oversimplifying. His voice is witty, engaging, and candidly quirky…Reveals striking truths about the nature of morality and humanity.” —Boston Globe
“Fascinating.” —The Atlantic
“Bloom has a talent for distilling scholarly work (his and others’) into accessible, appealing prose…He writes with both an authority and an openness that suggest he would enjoy a lively discussion with any skeptics.” —Washington Post
“Bloom — an elegant, lucid and economical writer — makes an excellent guide…He’s an observer and evaluator who’s not ideologically invested in any one interpretation of the evidence… If he takes exception with moral philosophy’s fixation on depersonalized thought problems, he is just as leery of the notion that morality is entirely based on feelings derived from our evolutionary past. The hard-wired stuff is just the beginning, Bloom points out, and reason has an essential part to play in our moral development, as well.” —Laura Miller, Salon
About the Book: In JUST BABIES: The Origins of Good and Evil (Crown; November 12, 2013), leading cognitive scientist Paul Bloom argues that humans are endowed at birth with a sense of morality—that even young infants have a rudimentary understanding of justice, and are capable of acting with empathy and compassion and of judging the actions of others. The roots of good and evil are part of human nature.
Yet this innate morality is tragically limited–offset by ingrained mistrust, even hatred, of people who are different from us. Drawing on insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he investigates the morality of chimpanzees, criminal psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race. Rejecting the fashionable view that adult morality is driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases, Bloom argues that reason and deliberation have made possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Bloom’s final message is hopeful: Through our imagination and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought, we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we are born with, becoming more than just babies.
Paul Bloom is a clear, erudite, and witty writer, moving seamlessly from the ideas of Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith to The Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. But he has a serious and important agenda and, in this groundbreaking book, based on original research at Yale and elsewhere, he offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives.
About the Author: PAUL BLOOM is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He is an internationally recognized expert on child development, moral psychology, and social reasoning, and he has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. The highly acclaimed author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like and Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human, he has published more than a hundred scientific articles on psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and neuroscience. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Nature, Slate, The Atlantic, Science, the New Yorker, and The Best American Science Writing. Bloom’s research has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes, and he has appeared numerous times on National Public Radio. His 2011 TED Global talk on the origins of pleasure has been viewed online more than one million times. You can visit his website at paulbloomatyale.com and follow @paulbloomatyale on Twitter.