100 books like Unto Others

By Elliot Sober, David Sloan Wilson,

Here are 100 books that Unto Others fans have personally recommended if you like Unto Others. 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 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Alex Rosenberg Author Of How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories

From my list on for getting a grip on our reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even before I became a philosopher I was wondering about everything—life the universe and whatever else Douglas Adams thought was important when he wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. As a philosopher, I’ve been able to spend my life scratching the itch of these questions. When I finally figured them out I wrote The Atheist’s Guide to Reality as an introduction to what science tells us besides that there is no god. In How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories I apply much of that to getting to the bottom of why it’s so hard for us, me included, to really absorb the nature of reality. 

Alex's book list on for getting a grip on our reality

Alex Rosenberg Why did Alex love this book?

Easier to read than On the Origin of Species, this book connects Darwin’s overwhelmingly significant explanatory insight to the last fifty years of advance in our understanding of biology, psychology, social science, and the nature of the mind. Dennett is a brilliantly ingenious builder of images and metaphors that really enable you to grasp Darwin’s breakthrough, one at least as important as Newton’s and Einstein’s, but more relevant to understanding the meaning of life. 

By Daniel Dennett,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Darwin's Dangerous Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life Daniel C. Dennett argues that the theory of evolution can demystify the miracles of life without devaluing our most cherished beliefs.

From the moment it first appeared, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has been controversial: misrepresented, abused, denied and fiercely debated. In this powerful defence of Darwin, Daniel C. Dennett explores every aspect of evolutionary thinking to show why it is so fundamental to our existence, and why it affirms - not threatens - our convictions about the meaning of life.

'Essential and pleasurable for any thinking…


Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Scott Galloway Author Of The Algebra of Wealth: A Simple Formula for Financial Security

From my list on helping you be your best self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I try to use my platform to  help people consider how to live a more meaningful life. I've made mistakes, learned from them, and want to pass on those lessons. There are many definitions of success and fulfillment and many paths to achieve it. I hope by telling my story others can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Scott's book list on helping you be your best self

Scott Galloway Why did Scott love this book?

Professor Kahneman’s ideologies on decision-making have helped me in business and my personal life.

His insights have enhanced my decision-making process and helped me navigate the strait between instinct and decision. His insights have encouraged me to delegate routine decisions, allowing me to reserve my mental energy for the most critical choices.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


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 Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Author Of Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution

From my list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always wondered why people choose and act in particular ways, from heroism and altruism to selfishness and greed. Human society is a kaleidoscope of changing actions and fortunes. Social science tries to explain why. But I was dissatisfied with its answers. Then I discovered writers who used evolutionary ideas to help explain social and economic change. I realized that evolution did not mean reducing everything to biology. I became fascinated by Darwin’s deeper and wider ideas about human society, cooperation, and motivation. I read widely and joined with others of similar mind. It is an exciting and rewarding intellectual landscape to explore. I strongly recommend a long visit.

Geoffrey's book list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Why did Geoffrey love this book?

This clearly written and well-researched book shows that human evolution is as much about culture as it is about genes. Both evolve. And both involve the Darwinian principles of variation, selection, and replication of key bits of information. Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson are among the leading contributors to our understanding of how genes and culture co-evolve. The work rebuts exclusively gene-based accounts, and it shows how human evolution operates on multiple levels. Darwinian ideas remain paramount because they provide the over-arching framework in which both genetic and cultural evolution interact and guide human behavior. This book shows how a Darwinian evolutionary approach can rescue the theory of culture in social science from its many vagaries and past wrong turns.

By Peter J. Richerson, Robert Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not by Genes Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Humans are a striking anomaly in the natural world. While we are similar to other mammals in many ways, our behavior sets us apart. Our unparalleled ability to adapt has allowed us to occupy virtually every habitat on earth, and our societies are larger, more complex, and more cooperative than any other mammal's. In "Not by Genes Alone", Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd argue that only a Darwinian theory of cultural evolution can explain these unique characteristics. "Not by Genes Alone" offers a radical interpretation of human evolution, arguing that our ecological dominance and our singular social systems stem…


Book cover of Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Author Of Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution

From my list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always wondered why people choose and act in particular ways, from heroism and altruism to selfishness and greed. Human society is a kaleidoscope of changing actions and fortunes. Social science tries to explain why. But I was dissatisfied with its answers. Then I discovered writers who used evolutionary ideas to help explain social and economic change. I realized that evolution did not mean reducing everything to biology. I became fascinated by Darwin’s deeper and wider ideas about human society, cooperation, and motivation. I read widely and joined with others of similar mind. It is an exciting and rewarding intellectual landscape to explore. I strongly recommend a long visit.

Geoffrey's book list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Why did Geoffrey love this book?

I often find well-researched histories of ideas invaluable as quarries for enhanced understanding and intellectual inspiration. This book is an exceptionally useful history of some key Darwinian ideas. Its principal focus is on evolutionary theories of mind, morality, and behavior, which have massive implications for the further development of the social sciences today. Richards sketches the intellectual background of Darwin’s thought in the nineteenth century, showing how he distanced himself from utilitarian approaches to moral and psychological analysis. The contrast with Herbert Spencer is particularly pertinent. But even more so, Darwin’s anti-utilitarianism remains highly relevant today, as much of social science – especially economics – is still dominated by utilitarian ideas. This history of thought defends evolutionary approaches to morality and it is explosive in its implications.

By Robert J. Richards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With insight and wit, Robert J. Richards focuses on the development of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior from their first distinct appearance in the eighteenth century to their controversial state today. Particularly important in the nineteenth century were Charles Darwin's ideas about instinct, reason, and morality, which Richards considers against the background of Darwin's personality, training, scientific and cultural concerns, and intellectual community. Many critics have argued that the Darwinian revolution stripped nature of moral purpose and ethically neutered the human animal. Richards contends, however, that Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and their disciples attempted to reanimate moral life, believing that…


Book cover of Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Author Of Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution

From my list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always wondered why people choose and act in particular ways, from heroism and altruism to selfishness and greed. Human society is a kaleidoscope of changing actions and fortunes. Social science tries to explain why. But I was dissatisfied with its answers. Then I discovered writers who used evolutionary ideas to help explain social and economic change. I realized that evolution did not mean reducing everything to biology. I became fascinated by Darwin’s deeper and wider ideas about human society, cooperation, and motivation. I read widely and joined with others of similar mind. It is an exciting and rewarding intellectual landscape to explore. I strongly recommend a long visit.

Geoffrey's book list on the seismic implications of Darwinism for social science

Geoffrey M. Hodgson Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Plotkin’s brilliant book is about the nature and evolution of human knowledge. How do people gain and develop useful knowledge in a complex, uncertain, and changing world? Behaviorist theories of stimulus and response are inadequate. The mind must be primed to deal with complexity and uncertainty. Models from behaviorist psychology are unable to account for the acquisition of knowledge in such circumstances. Darwinian evolutionary theory helps to explain how the mind uses inherited instincts and culturally acquired habits to guide and enhance intelligence. As with the earlier work of the Darwinian psychologist and pragmatist, William James, instinct and habit are the enablers of intelligence, not its impediments. Knowledge is an evolutionary adaptation. This great book reveals more explosive implications of Darwinism for social science.

By Henry Plotkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bringing together evolutionary biology, psychology, and philosophy, Henry Plotkin presents a new science of knowledge that traces an unbreakable link between instinct and our ability to know. Since our ability to know our world depends primarily on what we call intelligence, intelligence must be understood as an extension of instinct. The capacity for knowledge is deeply rooted in our biology and, in a special sense, is shared by all living things.


Book cover of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Andreas Creutzmann Author Of Soft Skills for the Professional Services Industry : Principles, Tasks, and Tools for Success

From my list on soft skills for professionals and entrepreneurs.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the very beginning of my studies, I asked myself a question that still accompanies me today: “Why are some people successful and others not?” I've always been interested in people who are successful through their own efforts instead of building on the success of previous generations through their heritage. In my search for what distinguishes successful from less successful people, I began to read a variety of relevant books and attend seminars. These books and seminars dealt with the topics of success, personality development, marketing and sales, rhetoric, psychology, and management as well as self-management and personal productivity. To date, I've read several hundred books on these topics and attended a number of seminars.

Andreas' book list on soft skills for professionals and entrepreneurs

Andreas Creutzmann Why did Andreas love this book?

Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer.

Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition, a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions.

Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer's research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right.

I have heard Gerd Gigerenzer lecture and read several of his books. If you want to use your gut feeling and your mind, this book tells you how.

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gut Feelings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why is split second decision-making superior to deliberation? Gut Feelings delivers the science behind Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

Reflection and reason are overrated, according to renowned psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Much better qualified to help us make decisions is the cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire we call intuition, a suite of gut feelings that have evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions. Gladwell drew heavily on Gigerenzer's research. But Gigerenzer goes a step further by explaining just why our gut instincts are so often right. Intuition, it seems, is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior…


Book cover of Administrative Behavior

Ananish Chaudhuri Author Of Experiments in Economics: Playing Fair with Money

From my list on emotions and economic decisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Experimental Economics at the University of Auckland where my work lies at the interface of economics and psychology. In a discipline (and a world) that tends to emphasize human self-interest, I have always been interested in our willingness to engage in unselfish behavior. Incentivized decision-making experiments with human participants where payments depend on the nature of their decisions are a powerful way of analyzing behavior. Are people willing to put their money where their mouth is? My background running experiments made me well-positioned to study some of these questions; a lot of them in collaboration with other social scientists including psychologists and political scientists. 

Ananish's book list on emotions and economic decisions

Ananish Chaudhuri Why did Ananish love this book?

To a large extent, the research agenda that is subsumed under the rubric of “behavioral economics” started with the idea of bounded rationality and the departures from the utility maximizing model of economics.

Many of the ideas pursued in this line of work owe their origin to the work of Herbert Simon, whose doctorate was in political science from Chicago in 1943 but who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978 for combining ideas from mathematics, psychology, economics, and computer science to understand decision making in large organizations. This is not to suggest that none of this was known before.

In fact, some people consider Adam Smith to be the first behavioral economist for his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which incorporates ideas from David Hume that it is passion (or emotions) that drive human behavior rather than deliberative reasoning. But, by and large, Simon’s work provided…

By Herbert A. Simon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this fourth edition of his ground-breaking work, Herbert A. Simon applies his pioneering theory of human choice and administrative decision-making to concrete organizational problems. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the book's original publication, Professor Simon enhances his timeless observations on the human decision-making process with commentaries examining new facets of organizational behavior. Investigating the impact of changing social values and modem technology on the operation of organizations, the new ideas featured in this revised edition update a book that has become a worldwide classic.
Named by Public Administration Review as "Book of the Half Century," Administrative Behavior is…


Book cover of Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions

Ananish Chaudhuri Author Of Experiments in Economics: Playing Fair with Money

From my list on emotions and economic decisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Experimental Economics at the University of Auckland where my work lies at the interface of economics and psychology. In a discipline (and a world) that tends to emphasize human self-interest, I have always been interested in our willingness to engage in unselfish behavior. Incentivized decision-making experiments with human participants where payments depend on the nature of their decisions are a powerful way of analyzing behavior. Are people willing to put their money where their mouth is? My background running experiments made me well-positioned to study some of these questions; a lot of them in collaboration with other social scientists including psychologists and political scientists. 

Ananish's book list on emotions and economic decisions

Ananish Chaudhuri Why did Ananish love this book?

I am tempted to say: Because Frank is a delightful writer and leave it at that.

This book reiterates similar themes in discussing how a variety of supposedly non-economic factors affect economic decisions.

In this book Frank discusses how noble human tendencies (moral sentiments) may have not only survived the pressures of the material world, but actually have been nurtured by them. The title is a play on the David Hume quote that “Reason is, and ought to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

To those interested, I also recommend any of Frank’s other books including Choosing the Right Pond, The Winner Take All Society, and The Darwin Economy

By Robert H. Frank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Passions Within Reason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The idea rests on a simple paradox, namely, that in many situations the conscious pursuit of self-interest is incompatible with its attainment. We are all comfortable with the notion that someone who strives to be spontaneous can never succeed. So too, on brief reflection, will it become apparent that someone who always pursues self-interest is doomed to fail.


Book cover of The Biology of Moral Systems

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?

My introduction to Richard Alexander was a set of compelling words that he wrote in the margin of a draft of one of my early papers on the evolution of altruism: “no, no, no, no.” I had gotten it wrong. 

In The Biology of Moral Systems, Richard Alexander presents an account of how morality evolved in the human species that has proven almost exactly right. The key to understanding morality, he argues, is to view it as a system that evolved to enable individuals who can benefit from cooperating with one another to resolve their conflicts of interest in mutually beneficial ways. 

Alexander explains how the moral systems that have evolved in human societies are structured in ways that enable people to reap the benefits of increasingly indirect systems of reciprocity.  

By Richard Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Despite wide acceptance that the attributes of living creatures have appeared through a cumulative evolutionary process guided chiefly by natural selection, many human activities have seemed analytically inaccessible through such an approach. Prominent evolutionary biologists, for example, have described morality as contrary to the direction of biological evolution, and moral philosophers rarely regard evolution as relevant to their discussions.The Biology of Moral Systems adopts the position that moral questions arise out of conflicts of interest, and that moral systems are ways of using confluences of interest at lower levels of social organization to deal with conflicts of interest at higher…


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