The Moral Sense

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Free Press, Nov 6, 1997 - Social Science - 336 pages
19 Reviews
Are human beings naturally endowed with a conscience? Or is morality artificially acquired through social pressure and instruction? Most people assume that modern science proves the latter. Further, most of our current social policies are based upon this “scientific” view of the sources of morality. In this book, however, James Q. Wilson seeks to reconcile traditional ideas with a range of important empirical research into the sources of human behavior over the last fifty years. Marshalling evidence drawn from diverse scientific disciplines, including animal behavior, anthropology, evolutionary theory, biology, endocrinology, brain science, genetics, primatology, education and psychology, Wilson shows that the facts about the origin and development of moral reasoning are not at odds with traditional views predating Freud, Darwin and Marx. Our basic sense of right and wrong actually does have a biological and behavioral origin. This “moral sense” arises from the infant’s innate sociability, though it must also be nurtured by parental influence. Thus, this book revives ancient traditions of moral and ethical argument that go back to Aristotle, and reunifies the separate streams of philosophical and scientific knowledge that for so long were regarded as unbridgeable.

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Review: The Moral Sense

User Review  - Norm Konzelman - Goodreads

I was surprised to find some attempt by the author to present his findings with honesty, and in many places information given caught my full attention. At one point in the book, he credits northern ... Read full review

Review: The Moral Sense

User Review  - Goodreads

I was surprised to find some attempt by the author to present his findings with honesty, and in many places information given caught my full attention. At one point in the book, he credits northern ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

James Q. Wilson most recently taught at Boston College and Pepperdine University. He was Professor Emeritus of Management and Public Administration at UCLA and was previously Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard University. He wrote more than a dozen books on the subjects of public policy, bureaucracy, and political philosophy. He was president of the American Political Science Association, and he is the only political scientist to win three of the four lifetime achievement awards presented by the APSA. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in 2003. Professor Wilson passed away in March of 2012 after battling cancer. His work helped shape the field of political science in the United States. His many years of service to his American Government book remain evident on every page and will continue for many editions to come.

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