I'm editor of the morality section of Evolution: This View of Life magazine, and in this role I recently had the chance to interview Jonathan Haidt, the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Professor Haidt is one of the world’s most famous psychologists and leading public intellectuals, and he is especially well-known for his theory of the moral emotions. He has been developing this theory for many years, but only recently has he begun taking an explicitly evolutionary approach towards morality, and focusing directly on how natural selection made it possible for humans to be moral.

The interview is illuminating in many respects. Haidt explains why he thinks that unless we utilize evolutionary theory, our efforts to explain the origins of morality will amount to nothing more than "dead-end blank-slate theories". He also reveals which contemporary thinkers have influenced him the most as he has developed his theory, and what he regards as the most important unsolved scientific puzzles in evolutionary moral psychology.

For more on Jonathan Haidt: profiles-in-evolutionary-moral-psychology-jonathan-haidt.

You are reading

From Darwin to Eternity

Did Religion Evolve to Benefit the Weak or the Powerful?

The paradox of who benefits most from religion

Surprised These Rockers Are Still Alive?

Why don’t we celebrate stars more while they’re still with us?

Star Wars, Christmas, and Constraints on Secular Influence

What's so special about religion (and Star Wars and Christmas)?