My guest today is Michael McCullough.
Michael is a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego where he directs the evolution and human behavior laboratory. He studies the functions of human behavior and emotion using the conceptual tools of evolutionary psychology and cognitive science. Michael has conducted research on forgiveness, revenge, gratitude, empathy, religion, and morality. He's the author of Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct, and The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code, which is the focus of today's conversation.
Michael and I talk about the field of evolutionary psychology and why it's considered controversial. We talk about Richard Dawkins and the selfish gene revolution, the evolutionary roots of altruism towards strangers, and we talk about the criticism that evolutionary psychology is a collection of 'just-so' stories rather than actual science. We also discuss the evolution of welfare spending over the past few centuries and about how it's possible for human societies filled with selfish apes to become more altruistic.
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Recording date : 12 Nov 2020
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