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Just Babies ❰PDF❯ ❤ Just Babies Author Paul Bloom – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk From John Locke to Sigmund Freud philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the From John Locke to Sigmund Freud philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings In Just Babies Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale Bloom demonstrates that even before they can speak or walk babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justiceStill this innate morality is limited sometimes tragically We are naturally hostile to strangers prone to parochialism and bigotry Bringing together insights from psychology behavioral economics evolutionary biology and philosophy Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations Along the way he examines the morality of chimpanzees violent psychopaths religious extremists and Ivy League professors and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex politics religion and race.

10 thoughts on “Just Babies

  1. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    Our moral lives have two parts It starts with what we are born with and this is surprisingly rich babies are moral animals euipped by evolution with empathy and compassion the capacity to judge the actions of others and even some rudimentary understanding of justice and fairness But we are than just babies A critical part of our morality—so much of what makes us human—emerges over the course of human history and individual development It is the product of our compassion our imagination and our magnificent capacity for reasonThe book is an elucidation of every detail of the above paragraph It doesn't limit itself to babies but is as much as a sweeping philosophical overview as it is science based factual evidence of how we behave even when no one is watchingHow babies as young as three days are the subjects of experiments is uite fascinating Basically it's all in the sucking the gazing and a little later the reaching and grabbing It is a uniue book and although easy to read is also personally challenging as to what one believes and does oneself I feel a little guilty that whenever I am in the US or UK I don't give to the beggars that line the streets and sleep in the parks I also find it immoral that some of the richest nations on earth should have let such people almost all mentally damaged to fall through the cracks I think I will be generous when i go back to the US in a few days and not cross the road and invent excuses why not to help The book has certainly made me thinkview spoilerThere aren't any beggars with nowhere to sleep on the island The three there are Susie who is a crack addict is used as an example to kids not to take drugs they can see the awful state you end up in Then there is Yello who comes from a wealthy family and is looked after but likes begging I remember her when she was a taxi driver a clever woman who had a breakdown She has a home to go to The third beggar is a big fat chap who is forever asking for money for food but always refuses offers to work He's uite clean so I suppose he has a home somewhere hide spoiler

  2. Larry Bassett Larry Bassett says:

    I took a courseraorg MOOC taught by Paul Bloom in January 2014 MOOC stands for massive open online course free lecture and online discussion classes that are offered on the internet The course was Moralities of Everyday Life Bloom is a psychology professor at Yale University in New Haven CT This book was suggested but not reuired for the course I enjoyed taking the course beginning in January 2014 but am just getting around to reading the book It is pretty repetitious of the course but a fun read nevertheless This book is enjoyable to read not just because it explains things well but also because it has some humanity and humor The psychologist Abigail Marsh and her colleagues find that psychopaths are markedly insensitive to the expression of fear Normal people recognize fear and treat it as a distress cue but psychopaths have problems seeing it let alone responding to it appropriately Marsh recounts an anecdote about a psychopath who was being tested with a series of pictures and who failed over and over again to recognize fearful expressions until finally she figured it out “That’s the look people get right before I stab them” This book is full of studies and knowledge and fun paragraphs I am sure it could not ualify as a text book But it does have forty pages of Notes at the end just to nail down the scholarship While the origin of group differences takes us outside the sciences of the mind the uestion of how we learn about these differences is bread and butter psychology and the answer is simple humans and other creatures are natural statisticians The only way to cope with the present is by making generalizations based on the past We learn from experience that chairs can be sat upon that dogs bark and that apples can be eaten Of course there are exceptions – fragile chairs mute dogs and poisonous apples – and it’s worth it to be on guard for such outliers But life would be impossible if we weren’t constantly going with the odds; otherwise we wouldn’t know what to do with a new chair dog or apple But don’t get me wrong This book isn’t just a lot of fun It takes on totally serious subjects But it tries to do so in a human way This research illustrates how we can be at war with ourselves Part of a person might believe that race should play no role in hiring decisions or even that racial minorities should get an advantage while another part guides a person against choosing a black person This tension can reflect a moral struggle; one’s explicit view about what’s right clashes with one’s gut feeling Just Babies will challenge you If you have ever read or heard about moral philosophy you have been presented with the “trolley” and the “bridge” scenarios repeatedly where you will be asked to sacrifice one life to save several To tell you the truth I am than a little tired of being asked if I would save a drowning child even if I ruined an expensive pair of shoes And what about those thousands of children dying every day in other parts of the world? But we shouldn’t be too smug about our moral powers I read every day about the suffering of strangers in faraway lands and I know I can improve their lives but I rarely make the effort When I am in a big city I often find myself in the position of the Good Samaritan in the tale from the Gospels passing someone slumped on the side of a road probably sick hungry plainly in need of assistance If the person were my kin – I would rush over to help; if he or she were in my in group – my neighbor a colleague from my university someone I play poker with – I would also help But it’s always a stranger so I usually turn away and keep walking Most likely you do the same I don’t think that you can have spoilers in science In science you often have a theory something that you test against Everything has to point in the direction of the theory or else you have to change the theory So Paul Bloom’s conclusion is rightly outlined on the inside flap of the dust cover Bloom does not assert that when we are born a baby we are innately just While we do have many good ualities at birth and Bloom explores developmental studies that show those characteristics he ultimately shows “how our imagination our compassion and especially our intelligence give rise to moral insight and moral progress and make us than just babies”For those of us who need summation and clear guidance Just Babies does end with a clear conclusion It turns out instead that the right theory of our moral lives has two parts It starts with what we are born with and this is surprisingly rich babies are moral animals euipped by evolution with empathy and compassion the capacity to judge the actions of others and even some rudimentary understanding of justice and fairness But we are than just babies A critical part of our morality – so much of what makes us human – emerges over the course of human history and individual development It is the product of our compassion our imagination and our magnificent capacity for reason This is an uplifting book It takes you places you are glad to be and helps you think things that make you feel good about people It is not only grounded in scientific proofs but also substantiated gut reactions If Coursera offers Moralities of Everyday Life again I encourage you to take it If not reading this book is a good substitute As of June 14 2014 the course outline is still posted online at

  3. Susan (aka Just My Op) Susan (aka Just My Op) says:

    I started reading this book just after 12 year old and 14 year old children were accused of killing teachers in two separate incidents I so much want to understand such behavior but I still don't have all the answers I wantAlthough much of this book is about babies and their innate morality it also relates to those of us who are well beyond that stage It is written at a level easily readable by a lay person such as I am who is interested but not highly educated on the subjectThere were experiments done on babies but don't worry – these are not the horrid damaging types done in generations gone by unfortunately not that many generations There were some mentions of animal experiments but not enough to be upsetting to me even though I hate reading about animal experiments often not done humanely or with any sense of compassionI learned some things that explain why I react to some situations and why other people may react the same or differently and found the information on punishment especially interestingThere are things I don't like about the book In one section the author has discussed how a horrible act of animal cruelty once was considered hilarious entertainment The author goes on to say “We don't do this any; should the next step be to stop hunting animals eating them and using them for medical research? Some would say yes to all of this too but then what about the proper treatment and protection of skin cells? Personal computers? Viruses?”Give me a freakin' break I am one of those who wants much much protection for animals than they now have and even someone like I am can understand the difference between vivisection on a dog and my personal computer This argument was taken to such a ridiculous extreme that the author lost some credibility Based on some of the studies I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions drawn by the author but I still learned a great deal and enjoyed the bookI was given an advance reader's copy of the book for review and the uote may have changed in the published edition

  4. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    Excellent Concise research and fabulous defining I read this in one night instead of watching Monday Night Football and sleeping that's how good it was In the middle and late '90's while getting an MS I did attending tracking children's aversion crowd interest trials of like manner to his baby exercises all kinds of Cognitive Psychology research So this was just up my alley and easy read And yet I am a hard audience for excluding the variables and a most difficult marker on these kinds of books Both 5 stars with no exceptionsHis chapters on the differences between empathy and compassion what cores disgust in homo sapiens were superlative Sections upon free rider sensibilities Very good And moral arrangements for punishment appropriate responses for using punishments even BETTER This is the kind of research in our brain's cognition that is never needed than right now To determine what makes it us and the other is just the beginning of the foundation to understand how to act for the numbers and cultures we have on earth today Human nature evaluations and its moral cognition are the crux Theory and philosophy of choices in economics or politico cannot ignore that homo sapiens foundation And at present they are

  5. Caroline Caroline says:

    NO SPOILERSIs a sense of right and wrong programmed into the human psyche at birth or is the psyche blank and totally pliable able to be fashioned just as easily into that of a conscionable being as into that of a psychopath? That is the uestion at the heart of Just Babies Author Paul Bloom refers to the sense of right and wrong as “morality” while at the same time acknowledging that that word can be hard to define“Even moral philosophers don’t agree about what morality really is and many non philosophers don’t like to use the word at all When I tell people what this book is about than one has responded with ‘I don’t believe in morality’ Someone once told me and I’m not sure that she was joking that morality is nothing than rules about whom you can and can’t have sex with” In a nutshell when it comes to the conscience Just Babies grapples with that age old uestion of “Is it nurture or nature?” Bloom’s book proves just how great of a role nature plays The book is divided into seven chapters with the first explaining at length the technical aspects of testing babies along with the results of these various experiments This first chapter is fascinating not only because of the results but because of the experiments themselves; the researchers’ ingenuity in devising ways to test babies is impressive The chapters following explore whether and to what degree people are born with a sense of empathy fairness disgust uite possibly the most intriguing chapter a desire to punish and seek revenge and exactly why people are naturally kinder to kin than to strangers As with the first chapter the answers to these uestions and the examples proving them via solid detailed experiments are riveting Just one of a great many that stand out Children are sensitive to ineuity then but it seems to upset them only when they themselves are the ones getting lessThe psychologists Peter Blake and Katherine McAuliffe paired up four and eight year olds who had never met placing them in front of a special apparatus that was set up to distribute two trays of candy One of the children had access to a lever that gave her the choice either to tilt both trays toward the children so that each got whatever amount of candy was on the nearest tray or to dump both trays so that nobody got any candy When there was an eual amount of candy in each tray the children almost never dumped They also almost never dumped when the distribution favored themselves—say four candies on their tray and one candy on the other child’s tray—though some of the eight year olds did reject this choice But when this distribution was reversed to favor the other child children at every age group freuently chose to dump both trays They would rather get nothing than have another child a stranger get than them Just Babies is well organized and written in clear straightforward language ideal for the everyday reader; Bloom didn’t use any specialized science or psychology jargon so a background in these fields isn’t necessary to understand the book The writing however could be better Certain word choices are jarring and detract from Just Babies’s intelligent tone The use of “pissed” is one such example “The researchers find that the dog offered a lesser treat will sometimes act well pissed and refuse it” A simple word swap makes that sentence sound a tiny bit scholarly “The researchers find that the dog offered a lesser treat will sometimes get angry and refuse it” Along the same lines Bloom wrote this “And so while there might remain some stalwart contributors the situation gradually goes to hell” when the following seems like a better choice “And so while there might remain some stalwart contributors the situation gradually devolves” Regardless the book’s strengths its biggest by far being that it effectively backs up each and every one of its many claims with convincing experimental evidence outweigh any weaknesses; Bloom took great care to convince leaving little room for doubt or dismissal Final verdict A good nonfiction choice for anyone the least bit interested in psychology NOTE I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy from LibraryThing in November 2013

  6. Alison Alison says:

    So here is my problem with this book it never actually discusses the origins of good or evil In fact it really feels like a hodgepodge of different theories on morality in general While Bloom discusses morality in babies he has a bad habit of jumping to conclusions in regards to the actual thought processes of the babies themselves based on the results of experiments As a psychologist and scientist I feel that he should not be making any arbitrary conclusions which he does several times throughout the book not just regarding babies I have read several books on the basis for evil lack of empathy sociopathy and the like This book really does not come close in comparison There are better books that provide a linear thought process and are clear in the connection between topics and chaptersI will say that I was pleased with how Bloom addressed the belief that without religion people would fail to have any morals His opinion and supporting research was well done and I applaud him for not only including it in his book as his opinion is not a popular one but taking the time to provide a valid logical argument surrounding it In all I think that this book is better thought of as a collection of essays regarding different aspects of what make us moral creatures instead of a book about the origins of good and evil

  7. Mark Mark says:

    Well first things first This is not just about babies While Yale psychologist Paul Bloom has done some of the most interesting work on the moral intuitions and behaviors of infants and toddlers there isn't enough of that work to sustain a whole bookInstead he uses those experiments to launch a wide ranging look at how we develop a moral sense For those who study social psychology much of this is well trod ground but Bloom is a good writer clear succinct with many good study examples He covers the emerging field of how our emotions and unconscious impulses can guide much of our moral behavior For instance if you wash your hands before doing a moral judgment experiment you're likely to judge someone harshly because unconsciously you feel pure If there is a poster of pair of eyes looking out at you while you are in a room you are likely to behave in a morally acceptable way and so forthHe also has one entire chapter on the trolley studies which have become one of psychology's landmark memes This is the thought experiment where you are asked if a trolley was hurtling down the tracks toward five people but you could throw a switch to send it down a track where one person would be killed would you do it? Most would Now on the other hand if you were standing on a bridge with a large person would you push him onto the tracks with the same numerical outcome? Most people wouldn'tBut it was actually the end of this book that fascinated me most because Bloom believes our moral reasoning our ability to weigh the pros and cons of our moral choices has a significant impact and this is at odds with some other thinkers who believe our moral behavior is still guided mostly by unconscious and evolutionarily ancient urges and that our rational morality is a post facto invention to explain decisions we've already madeHe also explores whether religion makes people moral or whether it is imply an accelerant that can either boost morally compassionate behavior in those so inclined or inflame punishment in those oriented that way This is a provocative book that is well worth the read

  8. Mara Mara says:

    Before I go into a TL;DR style review I'll give you my summary thoughts interesting book if you're someone who is curious about developmental andor moral psychology and experimental methods I happen to be one of those people but if reading the names of the grad students involved in ualitative methods studies is a big turn off for you then you might want to skip this oneI read this in tandem with Into That Darkness An Examination of Conscience which enhanced my enjoyment of both books this one focusing on theory of moral developmentschools of thought in moral philosophy etc the other a combination of case studies into how these mechanisms of morality can evolve into some of the greatest atrocities known to human kind Paul Bloom begins by examining some of the fundamental pieces that may or may not comprise morality empathy compassion disgust a desire for fairness etc What I found to be of particular interest were the mechanisms of justification for bad behavior that show up in early childhood development Such reflexive displays of guilt were replaced with explicit acts of moral self justification as the children got older the two year olds in the study attempted to “motivate the disobedience for example by claiming the toy as their ownBloom also examines mechanisms through which certain natural impulses toward acting morally are overridenDisgust is a powerful force for evil If you want to exterminate or marginalize a group this is the emotion to elicit p131He also examines the means through which religion can be used to includeexclude groups from our moral circlesWhen the moral circle contracts perhaps because of war or some other external threat people “tend to find a scriptural basis for intolerance or belligerence” When it expands “they’re likely to find the tolerant and understanding side of their scriptures” Believing that scripture itself causes these changes is like concluding that newspaper headlines cause plane crashes p205If you are not familiar with trolley problems then this book gives you a nice overview of their various versions and why human impulses can be seemingly illogical I fear this is a what I found interesting list than it is a review but as I said if these are the types of things that intrigue you particularly if you don't want to plod through the entirety of several studies summarized in this book then definitely check it out

  9. Leo Walsh Leo Walsh says:

    Just Babies by Paul Bloom begins with a captivating science based book offering an overview of what developmental psych tells us about infant and toddler's inborn morality After tracing how morals develop as we age Bloom moves into trolley stories which are little thought experiments cognitive scientists use to test morality of mature subjects Here's an example of a pair of trolley stories1 You are standing on a bridge over a railroad track a train is approaching and you see a villain has tied ten people to a track You can save them by switching the train to another track but if you throw the switch you kill another person the villain had tied to that track Would you pull the switch?When asked this way experimental subjects agree that they should throw the switch And it makes sense It makes it seem as it humans are positivistic utilitarian in their moral judgements Killing 1 to save 10 makes rational sense since “101”But things get complicated When posing the rational 101 in another way researcher end up with the opposite response saving the 1 person and sacrificing the 10 2 You are standing on a bridge over a railroad track a train is approaching and you see a villain has tied ten people to a track You can save them by pushing a fat man standing next to you onto the track below to slow the train killing him You are too light to accomplish this Would you push the man to his death?Odd since both situations offer identical “you save 10 people by killing 1” payoffs The difference is one is from afar you throw a switch while the other up close and personal Why the difference? And which reflects our innate morality? Both it seems Since as social animals emotionally healthy humans cringe at murder And being near a person makes that murder explicit while killing them from afar buffers us from reality Intriguing And one of the many thought provoking issues the psychological studies covered in Just Babies raisesBut unlike many scientists Bloom refuses to stop at the “that’s just the way we are” arguments Instead he highlights the need for real deep seated thought through moral principles Which reuires rational engagement with moral issues that takes our biases into accountFor example babies toddlers and young children naturally distrust outsiders embracing their near kin Problem is racist leaders leverage this tendency by creating an us them mentality as Hitler did with the Jews But we don't have to remain bound to instinct By using our rationality humans can assess the data biology and statistics gives us which is that an average human is average regardless of race color or creed Further the science tells us that racial supremacy is a lark By applying ration to our moral choices we further learn that the science tells us enrolling a child in a mixed race school makes all children regardless of race tolerant Further multicultural diversity produces better test scores for students of every race So if your rationally determined goal is creating a just society where all people regardless of race color or creed have the best chance of success desegregating schools seems a no brainer Sure it goes beyond reporting science But it advocates for thoughtful consciousness that transcends and allows us to use science to achieve are greater abstract philisophical ends This refreshing attitude acknowledging the limits of science is all to rare in science writing All things consideredI’d recommended Just Babies for people interested justice and morality Or people interested in contemporary cognitive science and evolutionary psychology Brilliant thought provoking and easy to read 4 stars

  10. Orsolya Orsolya says:

    Morality Justice Empathy Compassion Good vs Evil These terms represent norms that grease the wheels of society The uestion amongst evolutionary psychologists is whether these concepts are purely created by nurture or are they foundations one is born with and then is insulated through nurture Paul Bloom an acclaimed psychologist presents his latter views in “Just Babies The Origins of Good and Evil” “Just Babies” combines developmental and cognitive sciences psychology philosophy and even some neuroscience to explore whether humans are born with a sense of right from wrong Bloom introduces his thesis clearly with a simple prose that is neither too scientific in jargon nor too dummied down for the mass audiences Yet Bloom conveys an immediate sense of “holding back” which continues throughout the text with too much of an abstract and summarized look at the topic To elaborate on this Bloom presents case studies experimental results and theories to help prove that babies display morality at an age when nurture couldn’t have logically played a part The issue is that Bloom doesn’t carry out the discussions or explain the complete science behind the trials making his arguments weak and unfulfilling Further many of his uoted experiments are ones which other psychology books also reference but apply them to meet their own needs This seems to be a trend amongst current authors in the field how can one experiment mold to prove so many various angles? At least Bloom presents some of his own primary findings versus simply summarizing the work of others Bloom mentions in the introduction to “Just Babies” that he will be overly referencing Adam Smith and even teases himself for it He certainly doesn’t exaggerate with Adam Smith being uoted on almost every page; limiting the view of “Just Babies”The biggest downfall of “Just Babies” is Bloom’s apparent failure to prove his thesis Although Bloom shows proof of morality; most of the examples cited are for humans adults in general versus that of babies The discussion of babies is very little and in fact merely focusing on this would cut the already short book’s length in half Basically “Just Babies” does not live up to its title or claimsDespite this major fallow there are some very enlightening and borderline philosophical view points and discussions in “Just Babies” – especially Bloom’s text on racial preferences and biases Again these are murky with their relation to the topic but are successfully compelling In the final chapter of “Just Babies” Bloom rationalizes some views concerning ‘How to be Good’ Unfortunately Bloom’s discussion is much too cluttered with philosophy with no clear direction leaving the chapter difficult to read and not ending “Just Babies” on a strong note Basically it is not memorable at allBloom includes a notes section which is useful for those seeking sources for further reading “Just Babies” makes some interesting points on a uniue topic but it is not as concise scientific or padded as preferred Bloom’s language is accessible making “Just Babies” a great introduction for the average reader However one simply does not come away with too much gained or a proven hypothesisthesis “Just Babies” is recommended for a mild and uick psychology read but if seeking something intense; then “Just Babies” can be skipped

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