Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Moral Psychology Compendium

I'm excited. This morning saw the thud of a sizable delivery from Amazon.com - the brand spanking new Moral Psychology, volumes 1, 2 and 3, edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. And what a collection!

Only a few years ago, literature on moral psychology (particularly incorporating evolution and neuroscience) were hard to come by. The field was a disparate collection of fragmentary sparks of insight, with no overriding framework to tie it all together. But no longer.

These three volumes represent the emergence of moral psychology as a serious and burgeoning field of enquiry, as significant, perhaps as the Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, edited by Robin Dunbar.

The rollcall in these volumes is impressive: Casebeer, Cosmides, Tooby, Mikhail, Ruse, Sarkissian, Joyce (from ANU and USYD, just around the corner from me), Haidt, Hauser, Greene, and many many more.

And I'm excited. Having started a PhD on the evolution of morality, a compendium such as this will prove invaluable. Not only will it save an enormous amount time tracking down scattered papers in various journals, but the volumes include replies to papers and subsequent responses by the original author. Being relatively new to the field, such material is incredibly valuable, not only when it comes to familiarising myself with the research, but also in understanding the state of play of the debates.

If you're at all interested in the newest and (I think) most exciting field of psychological and philosophical research, then this looks to be an essential volume. I'll be adding more detailed individual comments on specific papers as I wade through the various tomes.


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