Reality about Human Morality
The Scientific Review Panelists were asked to suggest a “basic shelf” of no more than five books that would be helpful as guidance toward an understanding of the naturalistic foundations of human morality. The following items of "best background reading" are the result of this request.
Note: If you decide to buy any of these items for your personal library (or any library!), please consider supporting the Brights movement at the same time by using a special Amazon link.
Readings Suggested by the Majority of Reviewers
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. (Steven Pinker )
Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals (Frans de Waal)
Readings Recommended by More than One Panelist
Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (Marc Hauser)
Moral Psychology (Vol. I-III). (Sinnott-Armstrong, W. P.)
b.n. Dr.. Pierce notes this as an excellent collection but very dense for the lay reader
The Origins of Virtue (Matt Ridley)
Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior (Evan Sober & David Sloan Wilson)
Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (Mark Bekoff & Jessica Pierce)
Some Other Mentioned Readings (one nomination each)
The Age of Empathy (Frans de Waal)
Evolutionary Origins of Morality: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives (Leonard D Katz)
Experiments in Ethics (Kwame Anthony Appiah)
The Expanding Circle (Peter Singer)
The Moral Animal (Robert Wright)
Primates and Philosophers (Frans de Waal)
The Science of Good and Evil (Michael Shermer)
The panelists were also asked to suggest any “single article” that would provide a good introductory overview of recent work on the evolution of human morality. Three items* immediately resulted from this request.
“The Moral Instinct” by Steven Pinker in the New York Times, January, 2008.
“Is Morality Natural?” by Marc Hauser in Newsweek, September 2008.
“The Biological Basis of Morality” by Edward O. Wilson in The Atlantic, April 1998.
* The Committee is compiling further suggestions and will post them in due time