100 books like The Biology of Moral Systems

By Richard Alexander,

Here are 100 books that The Biology of Moral Systems fans have personally recommended if you like The Biology of Moral Systems. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Selfish Gene

Dennis L. Krebs Author Of Survival of the Virtuous: How We Became a Moral Animal

From my list on how we became a moral animal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Many good-hearted people helped me. In part, this inspired me to become a clinical psychologist. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, I became disillusioned with clinical psychology and inspired to figure out why people are motivated to help others. During this process, a lecturer from the Biology Department, Robert Trivers, approached me and we exchanged drafts of papers we were writing. Trivers’ ideas caused me to see altruism and morality in an entirely different, and much more valid, way. In Survival of the Virtuous I demonstrate how psychological findings on altruism and morality can be gainfully interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.  

Dennis' book list on how we became a moral animal

Dennis L. Krebs Why did Dennis love this book?

More than thirty years ago, when I was conducting research on the psychology of altruism and moral development, a biologist recommended that I read The Selfish Gene

Reading Dawkins’ book caused me to change my theoretical orientation completely.  It enabled me to see that if I wanted to understand altruism and morality, I needed to understand how the genes that guide the construction of the mental mechanisms that cause us to help others evolved. 

Although the title of the book implies that we are selfish by nature, the contents explain how selfish genes can guide the development of unselfish animals.  

By Richard Dawkins,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Selfish Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The million copy international bestseller, critically acclaimed and translated into over 25 languages.

As influential today as when it was first published, The Selfish Gene has become a classic exposition of evolutionary thought. Professor Dawkins articulates a gene's eye view of evolution - a view giving centre stage to these persistent units of information, and in which organisms can be seen as vehicles for their replication. This imaginative, powerful, and stylistically brilliant work not only brought the insights of Neo-Darwinism to a wide audience, but galvanized the biology
community, generating much debate and stimulating whole new areas of research. Forty…


Book cover of Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior

Dennis L. Krebs Author Of Survival of the Virtuous: How We Became a Moral Animal

From my list on how we became a moral animal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Many good-hearted people helped me. In part, this inspired me to become a clinical psychologist. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, I became disillusioned with clinical psychology and inspired to figure out why people are motivated to help others. During this process, a lecturer from the Biology Department, Robert Trivers, approached me and we exchanged drafts of papers we were writing. Trivers’ ideas caused me to see altruism and morality in an entirely different, and much more valid, way. In Survival of the Virtuous I demonstrate how psychological findings on altruism and morality can be gainfully interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.  

Dennis' book list on how we became a moral animal

Dennis L. Krebs Why did Dennis love this book?

As a psychologist, I marveled at the integration of ideas from psychology and evolutionary biology (with some philosophy thrown in) about the evolution of morality presented by the biologist D.S. Wilson and the philosopher Elliott Sober. 
Unto Others is a bold book that challenges the pervasive position in biology that moral traits cannot evolve through group selection. Using examples from several species, these authors explain how competitions in which altruistic groups defeat selfish groups can select for altruistic traits even though selfish individuals within these groups fare better than altruistic individuals. 

I admired the courage of these authors to go against the grain and withstand the vilification that their iconoclastic ideas evoked.   

By Elliot Sober, David Sloan Wilson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unto Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No matter what we do, however kind or generous our deeds may seem, a hidden motive of selfishness lurks--or so science has claimed for years. This book, whose publication promises to be a major scientific event, tells us differently. In Unto Others philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson demonstrate once and for all that unselfish behavior is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal kingdom--from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume themselves in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for…


Book cover of The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

Dennis L. Krebs Author Of Survival of the Virtuous: How We Became a Moral Animal

From my list on how we became a moral animal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Many good-hearted people helped me. In part, this inspired me to become a clinical psychologist. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, I became disillusioned with clinical psychology and inspired to figure out why people are motivated to help others. During this process, a lecturer from the Biology Department, Robert Trivers, approached me and we exchanged drafts of papers we were writing. Trivers’ ideas caused me to see altruism and morality in an entirely different, and much more valid, way. In Survival of the Virtuous I demonstrate how psychological findings on altruism and morality can be gainfully interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.  

Dennis' book list on how we became a moral animal

Dennis L. Krebs Why did Dennis love this book?

As an award-winning journalist and science writer, Robert Wright, the author of The Moral Animal, presents a lively, thought-provoking presentation of the theoretical framework of evolutionary psychology interwoven with tidbits about Charles Darwin’s life. 

I was impressed by his ability to provide compelling explanations for how moral sentiments and other important aspects of human psychology such as marriage, family, friendship, racism, deception, and self-deception evolved.  

By Robert Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moral Animal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MORAL ANIMAL examines the significance of this extraordinary shift in our perception of morality and what it means to be human.

Taking the life of Charles Darwin as his context, Robert Wright brilliantly demonstrates how Darwin's ideas have stood the test of time, drawing startling conclusions about the structure of some of our most basic preoccupations. Why do we commit adultery, express suicidal tendencies and have the capacity for self-deception? Wright not only provides the answers to such fundamental moral questions from the perspective of evolutionary psychology but challenges us to see ourselves anew through the clarifying lens of…


Book cover of The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts And the Evolution of Cooperation

Dennis L. Krebs Author Of Survival of the Virtuous: How We Became a Moral Animal

From my list on how we became a moral animal.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Many good-hearted people helped me. In part, this inspired me to become a clinical psychologist. When I was in graduate school at Harvard, I became disillusioned with clinical psychology and inspired to figure out why people are motivated to help others. During this process, a lecturer from the Biology Department, Robert Trivers, approached me and we exchanged drafts of papers we were writing. Trivers’ ideas caused me to see altruism and morality in an entirely different, and much more valid, way. In Survival of the Virtuous I demonstrate how psychological findings on altruism and morality can be gainfully interpreted from an evolutionary perspective.  

Dennis' book list on how we became a moral animal

Dennis L. Krebs Why did Dennis love this book?

Matt Ridley is a science writer who has a rare knack for explaining complex ideas in ways that are witty and comprehensible to a lay audience. 

In Origins of Virtue, he weaves engaging anecdotes about academics who have argued that the function of traits we consider virtues is to uphold systems of cooperation into accounts of their ideas. I found his discussions of game theory especially interesting. 

Richard Dawkins may have provided the best review of Ridley’s book when he wrote, “If my Selfish Gene were to have a volume two devoted to humans, The Origins of Virtue is pretty much what I think it ought to look like.” 

By Matt Ridley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origins of Virtue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of the Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind's natural selfish behavior-by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others.Brilliantly orchestrating the newest findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins…


Book cover of Principles of Biomedical Ethics

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of The Right to Die with Dignity: An Argument in Ethics, Medicine, and Law

From my list on medical ethics and end-of-life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Olof Palme Visiting Professor, Lund University, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull, and Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA), and Nirma University (India). With more than 300 publications, Raphael has published extensively in the field of political philosophy, including Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Tolerance; Challenges to Democracy; The Right to Die with Dignity; The Scope of Tolerance; Confronting the Internet's Dark Side; Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism, and The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab.

Raphael's book list on medical ethics and end-of-life

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

This is a classic book.

It is probably the most influential book in the field of medical ethics since the field was established during the 1960s.

I use this book and its invoked Georgetown Mantra of Bioethics, which includes the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, in all my medical ethics courses, and refer to this book often when I'm writing about medical ethics and end-of-life concerns.

Its guiding principles are relevant today as they were when the book was written. 

I invited Tom Beauchamp to one of the conferences I organised. Tom subsequently contributed a chapter to my edited volume Medical Ethics at the Dawn of the 21st Century (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 2000), Vol. 913 of the Annals.

He also invited me to present my book at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. When I was teaching at Johns Hopkins I also…

By Tom L. Beauchamp, James F. Childress,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Principles of Biomedical Ethics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Principles of Biomedical Ethics, eighth edition, provides a highly original, practical, and insightful guide to morality in the health professions. Acclaimed authors Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress thoroughly develop and advocate for four principles that lie at the core of moral reasoning in health care: respect for autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice.Drawing from contemporary research, and integrating detailed case studies and vivid real-life examples and scenarios, they demonstrate how these prima facie principles can be expanded to apply to various conflicts and dilemmas. Ideal for courses in biomedical ethics, bioethics, and health care ethics, the text is enhanced…


Book cover of For the Patient's Good: The Restoration of Beneficence in Health Care

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of The Right to Die with Dignity: An Argument in Ethics, Medicine, and Law

From my list on medical ethics and end-of-life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Olof Palme Visiting Professor, Lund University, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull, and Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA), and Nirma University (India). With more than 300 publications, Raphael has published extensively in the field of political philosophy, including Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Tolerance; Challenges to Democracy; The Right to Die with Dignity; The Scope of Tolerance; Confronting the Internet's Dark Side; Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism, and The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab.

Raphael's book list on medical ethics and end-of-life

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

Edmund (Ed) D. Pellegrino was a man of many qualities and achievements.

He was one of the forefathers of medical ethics. He was a learned Catholic. He was hailed as a “complete physician” among “a handful of other high-profile physician leaders of the twentieth century.

In a long and remarkable career that spanned over 55 years of research and scholarship, Pellegrino published more than 550 scholarly books and articles.

In For the Patient's Good, the authors discuss the notion of beneficence as a guiding principle in medical ethics. They examine the content of the concept of 'patient good' from ethical, philosophical, and practical aspects, speaking about the duties of the medical professionals to their patients.

Ed and I used to meet during my visits to Washington. We had lengthy conversations about medical ethics, philosophy, religion (Catholicism, Judaism), and education.

He was the keynote speaker in one of the conferences I…

By Edmund D. Pellegrino, David C. Thomasma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the Patient's Good as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beneficence - doing the right and good thing - is the fundamental principle of medical ethics. It points all medical decisions and actions toward advancing the patient's best interests. Yet in our normally pluralistic society where rights are asserted more frequently than obligations, this ancient principle tends to be obscured or confused with paternalism.

This book attempts to rejuvenate and redevelop the notion of beneficence as a guiding principle within the ethics of medicine. The authors examine the content of the concept of 'patient good' from both philosophical and practical viewpoints, and they strive to supplement and in some ways…


Book cover of Law and Bioethics: An Introduction

Jacob M. Appel Author Of Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

From my list on challenging ethical dilemmas in modern medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a physician and attorney, I’ve always been fascinated by the nexus where my two professions meet.   During the course of my career, I have been asked to advise colleagues on topics as far-reaching as whether a death row inmate should receive an organ transplant to how to offer psychotherapy ethically to a conjoined twin. Although questions like these do not arise every day, even the everyday questions in my field – on such topics as confidentiality, boundaries, and informed consent – never grow old.

Jacob's book list on challenging ethical dilemmas in modern medicine

Jacob M. Appel Why did Jacob love this book?

The defining text of the topic of law and medicine, written by one of the nation’s premier bioethicists, Menikoff’s compendium of challenging cases and analyses is as relevant today as it was when first published two decades ago. Serious students of the subject matter will appreciate both the nuance and thoroughness of this short yet comprehensive volume.

By Jerry Menikoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Law and Bioethics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While the American legal system has played an important role in shaping the field of bioethics, "Law and Bioethics" is the first book on the subject designed to be accessible to readers with little or no legal background. Detailing how the legal analysis of an issue in bioethics often differs from the "ethical" analysis, the book covers such topics as abortion, surrogacy, cloning, informed consent, malpractice, refusal of care, and organ transplantation. Structured like a legal casebook, "Law and Bioethics" includes the text of almost all the landmark cases that have shaped bioethics. Jerry Menikoff offers commentary on each of…


Book cover of The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Betty Culley Author Of The Name She Gave Me

From my list on adoption feels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went into foster care at nine months old, was adopted three years later, and as an adult I was reunited with five siblings I never knew I had. I’ve spent my whole life wondering or searching for the truths about my past. 

Betty's book list on adoption feels

Betty Culley Why did Betty love this book?

Jenna Fox wakes from a year-long coma after a terrible accident and tries to figure out who she is now. This is a book with futuristic medicine and technology, but the feelings and emotions are universal. Jenna’s struggle to find out the truth about her past, and her place in the present make this one of my very favorite books, which I’ve read and reread many times.

By Mary E. Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Adoration of Jenna Fox as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters…


Book cover of Childhood's End

Craig A. Falconer Author Of Not Alone

From my list on how things will change when the aliens show up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a longstanding interest in space, and particularly in aliens. In researching my breakthrough novel Not Alone, I extensively read as much nonfiction content on the topic as I could find, including governmental-backed scenario analyses of how things might actually play out in a contact or invasion scenario. Naturally, I have also read widely in the sci-fi genre for my own pleasure, with most of my interest in this specific topic.

Craig's book list on how things will change when the aliens show up

Craig A. Falconer Why did Craig love this book?

This was the first major alien arrival novel I read. I recall being awestruck by Arthur C. Clarke’s masterful mixing of incisive storytelling and a deep sense of grandeur.

The Overlords are hugely memorable, but it was the exploration of human identity that had the biggest effect on me. The story endures as a classic for a very good reason.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Childhood's End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur C. Clarke's classic in which he ponders humanity's future and possible evolution

When the silent spacecraft arrived and took the light from the world, no one knew what to expect. But, although the Overlords kept themselves hidden from man, they had come to unite a warring world and to offer an end to poverty and crime. When they finally showed themselves it was a shock, but one that humankind could now cope with, and an era of peace, prosperity and endless leisure began.

But the children of this utopia dream strange dreams of distant suns and alien planets, and…


Book cover of Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Health Care in America

Jacob M. Appel Author Of Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

From my list on challenging ethical dilemmas in modern medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a physician and attorney, I’ve always been fascinated by the nexus where my two professions meet.   During the course of my career, I have been asked to advise colleagues on topics as far-reaching as whether a death row inmate should receive an organ transplant to how to offer psychotherapy ethically to a conjoined twin. Although questions like these do not arise every day, even the everyday questions in my field – on such topics as confidentiality, boundaries, and informed consent – never grow old.

Jacob's book list on challenging ethical dilemmas in modern medicine

Jacob M. Appel Why did Jacob love this book?

By far the best survey of medical ethics on the market today, Moreno and Gutmann bring to life the most challenging issues in bioethics with both rigor and eloquence. This is the ideal book for a newcomer to the subject who wants to learn how current ethical principles evolved and how they are applied in a range of areas from organ donation to end-of-life decision-making.

By Amy Gutmann, Jonathan D. Moreno,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eye-opening look at the inevitable moral choices that come along with tremendous medical progress, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die is a primer for all Americans to talk more honestly about health care. Beginning in the 1950s when doctors still paid house calls but regularly withheld the truth from their patients, Amy Gutmann and Jonathan D. Moreno explore an unprecedented revolution in health care and explain the problem with Americans wanting everything that medical science has to offer without debating its merits and its limits. The result: Americans today pay far more for health…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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