Baby Morality

Yale psychologist and author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, Paul Bloom discusses the evidence that certain behaviors, dispositions, and feelings on which morality is built are innate in us and present already in babies:

Relatedly, Alison Gopnik’s The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life sounds like an interesting exploration of the philosophical implications of baby psychology. She talked to Stephen Colbert about it a while back:

Relatedly, yesterday I also highlighted the purposes that psychologists think children’s imaginary friends’ serve.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

    In my own kids, I see both: Care, love, empathy for others, and unchecked greed and reckless behaviour, retribution and acts of cruelty.
    They will share voluntarily, but they’ll also take whatever they want even if that makes the other kid cry.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Yeah, sounds like the competing dominant impulses of adult human nature, but spontaneous and unformed by social orders.

      But since both our good and our bad are there unchecked, one might say babies aren’t distinctly moral or immoral yet but exhibiting all the natural inclinations that morality tries to shape to its purposes.


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