Where Has the Moral Instinct Gone?

Human Kindness and the Smell of Warm Croissants

“How does it come about that we tend to judge the actions of others in terms of good and evil, just and unjust, when, very often, they do not directly concern us? How are we to explain the fact that our altruistic, benevolent, or generous actions are in no wise exceptional when our species is supposed to be composed of fundamentally selfish individuals, preoccupied above all with their own material well-being? Among the traditional answers to these questions, some refer to the impact of a social apprenticeship proceeding by means of rewards and punishments, and others to the existence of an ‘innate moral sense’ or of a ‘moral instinct.'” — Ruwen Ogien

This week our featured book is Human Kindness and the Smell of Warm Croissants: An Introduction to Ethics, by Ruwen Ogien, translated by Martin Thom. Today, for the final day of the feature, we have excerpted a chapter in which Ogien discusses how advances in psychology have affected the idea of a human “moral instinct.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Human Kindness and the Smell of Warm Croissants

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