The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

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Macmillan, Feb 2, 2004 - Philosophy - 350 pages
37 Reviews
In his third and final investigation into the science of belief, bestselling author Michael Shermer tackles the evolution of morality and ethics

A century and a half after Darwin first proposed an “evolutionary ethics,” science has begun to tackle the roots of morality. Just as evolutionary biologists study why we are hungry (to motivate us to eat) or why sex is enjoyable (to motivate us to procreate), they are now searching for the roots of human nature.

In The Science of Good and Evil, psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates, how and why morality motivates the human animal, and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence. Along the way he explains the im-plications of statistics for fate and free will; fuzzy logic for the existence of pure good and pure evil; and ecology for the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamö, infamously known as the “fierce people” of the tropical rain forest, to the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, to John Hinckley’s insanity defense. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.
  

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Review: The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

User Review  - Alicia Fox - Goodreads

Shermer is one of the few Libertarian writers I can get behind. This book deals with how evolutionary psychology and other branches of science can be used to explain the roots of human morality, and ... Read full review

Review: The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

User Review  - Wayland Smith - Goodreads

This is an interesting idea. The author attempts to apply science to morals. He makes a lot of interesting observations, and his theories are well thought out. I admit, I found it a bit dry. The man ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue One Long Argument
1
1 The Origins of Morality
13
II A Science of Provisional Ethics
139
Appendix I The Devil Under Form of Baboon The Evolution of Evolutionary Ethics
265
Appendix II Moral and Religious Universals as a Subset of Human Universals
285
Notes
293
Bibliography
317
Illustration Credits
331
Acknowledgments
333
Index
337
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

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