Are Babies Born With A Certain Moral Compass?

babies and moralityDo babies have any innate moral compassRedTracker| In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau called the baby “a perfect idiot,” and in 1890 William James famously described a baby’s mental life as “one great blooming, buzzing confusion.” Child researcher Paul Bloom, his wife Karen Wynn, who runs the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University, and a graduate student, and Kiley Hamlin, who is the lead author of their studies, beg to differ.

A handful of research teams around the world are investigating the moral life of babies. In this weekend’s New York Times magazine, Bloom digs deeply into the questions about a babies’ moral compass, how babies approach values-driven decision-making, and the larger question of the ‘Godliness’ inside us all.

Bloom sidesteps the big questions for adults and religion in this debate, although he does social and cultural critic Dinesh D’Souza and his book “What’s So Great About Christianity,” which we haven’t read.

The bottom line question many of us seek in this discussion is whether or not humans are born with an innate sense of goodness, or are we just blobs of immoral sinfulness requiring the rod of religion to beat us into creatures worthy of living in God’s realm.

For the latest on babies and morality, read on in the New York Times magazine.