Marc Hauser, the author of Perennial’s Moral Minds, has a fascinating piece in this week’s Newsweek on morality. The part that struck me (maybe because I’m currently reading HeartSick, a book where a psychopath plays a central role) was:
“Another example of the role that emotions have on our actions comes from recent studies of psychopaths. Take the villains portrayed by Heath Ledger and Javier Bardem, respectively, in “The Dark Knight” and “No Country for Old Men.” Do such psychopathic killers know right from wrong? New, preliminary studies suggest that clinically diagnosed psychopaths do recognize right from wrong, as evidenced by their responses to moral dilemmas. What is different is their behavior. While all of us can become angry and have violent thoughts, our emotions typically restrain our violent tendencies. In contrast, psychopaths are free of such emotional restraints. They act violently even though they know it is wrong because they are without remorse, guilt or shame.”
Check out Marc’s book for more insights into morality and the way it is formed.