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

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

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By (author) Michael Shermer

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  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 203mm x 23mm | 454g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0805077693
  • ISBN 13: 9780805077698
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 130,568

Product description

From bestselling author Michael Shermer, an investigation of the evolution of morality that is "a paragon of popularized science and philosophy" The Sun (Baltimore) 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 very nature of humanity. In "The Science of Good and Evil," 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 implications of scientific findings for fate and free will, the existence of pure good and pure evil, and 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 Yanamamo, infamously known as the "fierce people" of the tropical rain forest, to the Stanford studies on jailers' behavior in prisons. "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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Author information

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.

Review quote

"Shermer does know his enemy, and it gives him a decided advantage in writing a book such as this, which aims to demonstrate that we don't need God at all to be moral human beings, that in fact human evolution has built a tendency toward moral behavior into our brains... A seeker who has found the best answers he can find in skepticism and a purely rational approach to life."