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February 05, 2014

Universal Rights and Wrongs

How much of our moral core is inherited? This is the topic of our MOOC discussion this coming Sunday.

Yale babyPaul Bloom and his colleagues study infants and toddlers. They have found that even very young babies seem to care about fairness and goodness. (Babies also show emerging bigotry, but that is for the 5th week.)

60 Minutes, segment on the Yale studies. See the tests for yourself.
Bloom 2009 The moral life of babies
We have Bloom's book, Just Babies, here in our collection
Warneken's experiments


unhappy border collieOther scientists look to animals to help untangle the role of biology. Who else practices lethal violence? War? Just our near cousin, the chimp. Who shows altruism, even to strangers? All sorts of species. And many animals care about fairness, at least when they are the victimized.
De Waal 2010 Morals Without God?
Warlike Chimps and Peaceful Bonobos


Caesar at Strabo's tombAnthropologists also explore our moral core, looking at many cultures. What do we all seem to care about? What is universal? Every group seems to have some sort of moral code concerning sex, death, purity, authority (though the details certainly differ), fairness (cheaters and freeloaders are everywhere despised) and so on.


Coming soon: How do political differences influence our sense of right and wrong?

Meanwhile, here are some links we would like to share:ice box mommies
A temporary truce in the mommy wars
The r-word
Kids React: Cheerios, Gay Marriage
How does natural selection work?
Reading and empathy
(Reading just a bit of literary fiction can increase your ability to read people.)
Violent video games and loss of empathy

Evil: Sylvia Plath reads Daddy
Good: Andreas Scholl, countertenor, Largo di Handel


And for a quick empathy boost, as well as a little exercise ...


Posted by library at February 5, 2014 08:24 PM