Is the human conscience led by the head or the heart? Is the moral progress we have enjoyed – religious freedom, the abolition of slavery, anti-war movements, civil, women’s, and gay rights – a gift of empathy and emotion, or of reason and logic? 

In an August 14 SFI Community Lecture in Santa Fe, psychologist and author Steven Pinker and philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein surveyed the history of moral progress in human society, a history, they say, suggesting that reason and logic have had a surprisingly powerful role in shaping the human condition.

Watch the lecture (86 minutes, August 14, 2013)

Read a summary of the lecture in Newsweek/The Daily Beast (September 20, 2013)

Listen to an interview with Steven Pinker on the Santa Fe Radio Cafe (August 8, 2013)

Steven Pinker is a Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He conducts research on language and cognition and is the author of seven books, most recently The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is an American novelist and professor of philosophy. She has written five novels, a number of short stories and essays, and biographical studies of mathematician Kurt Gödel and philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Goldstein was a 2011 Santa Fe Institute Miller Scholar.

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