Reading List



Haidt, Johnathan. The Righteous Mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion (2012).  His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures.

Miles, Jack. God: a biography (1996). What sort of “person” is God? Is it possible to approach him not as an object of religious reverence, but as the protagonist of the world’s greatest book–as a character who possesses all the depths, contradictions, and abiguities of a Hamlet? In this “brilliant, audacious book” (Chicago Tribune), a former Jesuit marshalls a vast array of learning and ktowledge of the Hebrew Bible to illuminate God–and man–with a sense of discovery and wonder.

Paige, Karen E and Paige, Jeffery M. The Politics of Reproductive Ritual (1982). One of the first attempts to examine cross-cultural anthropological data from the perspective of behavioral evolution.

Thornhill, Randy and Palmer, Craig T. A Natural History of Rape: biological basis of sexual coercion (2001). Rape circumvents a central feature of women’s reproductive strategy: mate choice. This is a primary reason why rape is devastating to its victims, especially young women. Thornhill and Palmer address, and claim to demolish scientifically, many myths about rape bred by social science theory over the past twenty-five years. The popular contention that rapists are not motivated by sexual desire is, they argue, scientifically inaccurate.Although they argue that rape is biological, Thornhill and Palmer do not view it as inevitable. Their recommendations for rape prevention include teaching young males not to rape, punishing rape more severely, and studying the effectiveness of “chemical castration.” They also recommend that young women consider the biological causes of rape when making decisions about dress, appearance, and social activities.

Wilson, Margo and Daly, Martin. Homocide (1988). The foundations of human behavior. Text used in criminology. The evolution of homocidal behavior. Children are 7 times more likely to be murdered by a non-biologically related person. Most homicide is a result of male-male competition and female-female competition.

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