Is Morality Hardwired in Us?

Is moral­i­ty a sixth sense that’s in all of us, and is it per­haps a prod­uct of our bio­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion? Writ­ing recent­ly in The New York Times Mag­a­zine, Har­vard psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor Steven Pinker sug­gests that moral­i­ty may well be hard­wired. And he points to fas­ci­nat­ing new research that backs up this belief. Pinker’s arti­cle cov­ers pret­ty much the same ground as does this engag­ing Radio Lab pod­cast (MP3iTunesFeedWeb Site). Tak­ing an hour-long look at the “sci­ence of moral­i­ty,” the pro­gram gets into some fas­ci­nat­ing stuff. It gets into the great Trol­ley moral dilem­ma, into what brain scans (MRI’s) reveal when human brains grap­ple with moral ques­tions, and into how sci­en­tists think that we inher­it­ed moral instincts from our pri­mate ances­tors. You’ll learn all about how moral­i­ty is our “inner chimp.” If this is not enough, you can also lis­ten to Pinker’s inter­view yes­ter­day on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Get it here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.