Why can’t we get along?

The uncertain biological basis of morality. Robert Wright’s review of Joshua Greene’s Moral Tribes” Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them and Paul Bloom’s Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. Which would do more to help us get along with them — a moral theory we can all agree on or a better understanding of how we are wired to think and feel about them?  “If Greene thinks that getting people to couch their moral arguments in a highly reasonable language will make them highly reasonable, I think he’s underestimating the cleverness and ruthlessness with which our inner animals pursue natural selection’s agenda. We seem designed to twist moral discourse—whatever language it’s framed in—to selfish or tribal ends, and to remain conveniently unaware of the twisting. So maybe the first step toward salvation is to become more self-aware.”

The trolley comes round the corner

Clang Went the Trolley.  Sarah Bakewell’s interesting review of two new books about the trolley problem: David Edmonds’ Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us About Right and Wrong and Thomas Cathcart’s The Trolley Problem; or, Would You Throw the Fat Guy off the Bridge? A Philosophical Conundrum. Bakewell’s conclusion: moral philosophers need not worry about being out of a job.

Know thyself: the psychopath within?

The neuroscientist who discovered he was a psychopath.“Why has Fallon been able to temper his behavior, while other people with similar genetics and brain turn violent and end up in prison? … ‘I was loved, and that protected me,’ he says. … Of course, there’s also a third ingredient, in addition to genetics and environment: free will. ‘Since finding all this out and looking into it, I’ve made an effort to try to change my behavior,’ Fallon says.”