Prince Edward

Prince Edward

Book - 2004
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Baker & Taylor
Reveals how humans have evolved from social primates into moral primates, exploring the implications of fuzzy logic, fate, free will, and ecology, among other issues affecting the way humans think about moral issues.

McMillan Palgrave
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.
Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the executive director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. His other books include In Darwin's Shadow, The Borderlands of Science, Denying History, How We Believe, and Why People Believe Weird Things. He lives in southern California.
We have long wrestled with questions of right and wrong, but one field of human endeavor—science—has traditionally sought to maintain a dispassionate distance from such controversies. And yet as evolutionary psychologists, biochemists, and anthropologists have begun to unravel the motives of the human animal, they have instigated a search into the roots of morality and the evolution of our complex ethical systems. Science, it turns out, has a lot to tell us about good and evil.

The psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer has written widely on the nature of belief, and The Science of Good and Evil is a provocative capstone to his work. In these pages, he explores an endlessly fascinating question: how and why did we make the leap from social primate to moral primate? As communities grew from bands and tribes to chiefdoms and states, Shermer explains, humans transformed the moral sentiments displayed in many primate species—shame and trust, for instance—into ethical principles. While gossip, shunning, and other informal methods might work effectively to curtail bad behavior in small groups, religion and formal ethical law worked better in large ones. Our morals and ethics, then, are products not of a divine source, but of our biological heritage and our cultural history.

Closing the artificial divide between morality and science, Shermer draws on a wide array of scientific evidence—ranging from the discovery of food sharing within vampire bat communities to the famous post-Holocaust psychological studies on obedience to authority and from recent anthropological fieldwork that proves our Paleolithic ancestors matched our modern propensity for warfare and ecological wreckage to research by neuroscientists on what is happening in the brain when we make moral decisions. He shows how game theory exposes the foundations of the Golden Rule, how chaos theory profoundly changes our perception of free will, and how fuzzy logic erodes the distinctions between good and evil. And he explores how science can help us address some of today's most difficult moral dilemmas—including debates over abortion, pornography, cloning, and animal rights.

Broad in scope, deep in analysis, and controversial to the core, Shermer's book shows how morality is deeply embedded in our being and behavior, and he develops a more universal, tolerant, and empirically based ethic that could serve all members of our species. 0The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, the workings of belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.
"This is an ambitious book, and it does not disappoint. The questions Shermer addresses are as old as rational thought, but they have taken on a new urgency as we come to understand ourselves through the sciences of mind, brain, genes, and evolution. His analyses are sophisticated and filled with good sense, and are enlivened with fascinating material from science and history. The Science of Good and Evil is an excellent snapshot of contemporary thinking about the nature and sources of morality."—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate

"Morality must have arisen long before modern religion cam around to lay claim to it. Michael Shermer engagingly brings this controversial topic to life. This is the most convincing argument to date that the origin of our sense of right and wrong is to be found within us, that it is part and parcel of human nature."—Frans de Waal, author of Good Natured

"Michael Shermer's brain is a place where science, history, and psychology meet in the service of common sense. He uses his insatiable curiosity to penetrate the fog of fuzzy thinking, shedding light on the most controversial issues of science and society. Yet another courageous book."—K. C. Cole, author of Mind Over Matter and The Hole in the Universe

"There is no other volume on evolutionary ethics and its history that is as stimulating, critical, and comprehensive as Michael Shermer's. All of us are daily challenged by ethical dilemmas, and one's solutions are rarely satisfactory to everyone; this is particularly true if some of the solutions based on religion and philosophy. In the end, we must construct a Darwinian answer to the daily challenge of living a moral and ethical life. The best guide known to me is Shermer's profound analysis in The Science of Good and Evil."—Ernst Mayr, author What Evolution Is

"Imagine there's no Heaven (as John Lennon suggested): what, then, is the foundation for morality? Skeptic magazine editor Shermer seeks to answer that question and to discover a scientific explanation for our notions of good and evil. He quotes Darwin to the effect that all scientific observation must be either for or against some point of view and avers his own viewpoint to be 'non-theistic agnosticism': the decision that, since God's existence is unprovable, he will live and act as if there is no God. The origins of morality and ethics, common to every society on Earth, must then lie in human institutions, Shermer concludes. Over hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors arrived at moral principles designed to maintain peace and order in communities of ever-increasing size and complexity. The earliest 'moral' principles are those that many animals recognize, such as protecting one's mate or young. As human society grew, the needs of larger and larger groups became the basis of morality; at the center of many of them lies something like the Golden Rule, treating others as we would wish to be treated. At the same time, early superstitions coalesced into religions, each of which took on the role of sanctioning the moral principles of its parent soc

Holtzbrinck
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.


Baker
& Taylor

The renowned science historian reveals how humans have evolved from social primates into moral primates, exploring the implications of fuzzy logic, fate, free will, and ecology, among other issues affecting the way humans think about moral issues. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt, 2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805075205
0805075208
9780805068337
0805068333
Branch Call Number: FICTION MCFARLAND
FICTION MCFARLAND
Characteristics: 354 p. ; 25 cm

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t
terber
Feb 19, 2015

I would have never come across this book if a staff member at the library hadn't suggested it and I'm so glad I read it. It is a novel about the desegregation of American schools in 1959-60 and it was so interesting. There were a few little dry spots here and there but it is well worth reading through them. I would recommend this to anyone.

SLBC Mar 20, 2013

This book was absolutely outstanding Dennis McFarland is a wonderful writer whom I haven't run across before.

The author has captured a 10 year old's perceptions and understanding beautifully while at the same time highlighting the truth about adult lies and obfuscation. Set in 1959 Virginia it also offers a view of segregation that I hadn't previously encountered.

I really look forward to reading all of Dennis McFarland's books.

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