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Moral Minds
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Marc Hauser is a full professor in the Department of Psychology and the Program in Neurosciences at Harvard University, a Harvard College Professor, adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Education, and a Co-Director of the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Program at Harvard.Author Location: New York, USA

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How do humans develop their capacity to make moral decisions? Harvard biologist Hauser (Wild Minds) struggles to answer this and other questions in a study that is by turns fascinating and dull. Drawing on the linguistic theories of Noam Chomsky, Hauser argues that humans have a universal moral grammar, an instinctive, unconscious tool kit for constructing moral systems. For example, although we might not be able to articulate immediately the moral principle underlying the ban on incest, our moral faculty instinctually declares that incest is disgusting and thus impermissible. Hauser's universal moral grammar builds on the 18th-century theories of moral sentiments devised by Adam Smith and others. Hauser also asserts that nurture is as important as nature: "our moral faculty is equipped with a universal set of rules, with each culture setting up particular exceptions to these rules." All societies accept the moral necessity of caring for infants, but Eskimos make the exception of permitting infanticide when resources are scarce. Readers unfamiliar with philosophy will be lost in Hauser's labyrinthine explanations of Kant, Hume and Rawls, and Hauser makes overly large claims for his theory's ability to guide us in making more moral, and more enforceable, laws. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'The theory set out in MORAL MINDS is certainly intriguing. It could yet remap the way moral philosophers think' THE TIMES 'This book describes many fascinating findings from a wide range of psychological experiments' INDEPENDENT 'Hauser's theory ... has implications for everything, from the personal - our levels of guilt, how we judge others or respond to temptation - to religion, ethics and the law. The results are far-reaching and fascinating' PSYCHOLOGIES MAGAZINE

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