May 14, 2008

The Emerging Moral Psychology

By Dan Jones

'Experimental results are beginning to shed light on the psychological foundations of our moral beliefs. Long thought to be a topic of enquiry within the humanities, the nature of human morality is increasingly being scrutinized by the natural sciences. This shift is now beginning to provide impressive intellectual returns on investment.

Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, primatologists and anthropologists, all borrowing liberally from each others’ insights, are putting together a novel picture of morality—a trend that University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt has described as the “new synthesis in moral psychology.” The picture emerging shows the moral sense to be the product of biologically evolved and culturally sensitive brain systems that together make up the human “moral faculty.”'

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