The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley

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Synopsis

If evolution by natural selection relentlessly favors self-interest, why do human beings live in complex societies and show so much cooperative spirit? In The Origins of Virtue, Matt Ridley, a zoologist and former American editor of the Economist, shows that recent research in a number of fields has suggested a resolution of the apparent contradiction between self-interest and mutual aid. Brilliantly orchestrating the new findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins of Virtue re-examines the everyday assumptions upon which we base our actions towards others, whether we are nurturing parents, siblings, or trade partners. The Origins of Virtue searches for the roots of that capacity for trust, contrasts it with the social instincts of ants, baboons, and naked mole rats, and draws provocative conclusions for our understanding of politics. Ridley not only traces the evolution of society but shows us how breakthroughs in computer programming, microbiology, and economics have all played their role in providing us with a unique perspective on how and why we relate to each other.
 

About Matt Ridley

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Matt Ridley has worked as a science editor, Washington correspondent, and American editor for the Economist. A research fellow of the Institute for Economic Affairs and a Trustee of the International Centre for Life, he lives in Northumberland, England.
 
Published April 1, 1997 by Viking Adult. 304 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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``Trust is as vital a form of social capital as money is a form of actual capital,'' Ridley argues in a concluding chapter in which he attempts to draw lessons for the modern political arena.

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Publishers Weekly

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Are humans inherently nasty and untrustworthy, as proposed by 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, or are they more like the noble savages described by 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau?

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The Spectator

except when he doesn’t – when he’ll look like a figment of your imagination (because he’s still trying to hide so he doesn’t mess up your free will) but if you allow your faith to convince you that your hallucination – however convincing – is, in fact, God not hiding very well….

Jun 15 2013 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Virtue

Reason Magazine

9.13.13 12:00 pm.

Nov 01 1997 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Virtue

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