Why do humans commit violent crimes and go to war? How to explain Abu Ghraib? Is human violence wired into our brains and genes? What role does it play in human evolution? Walter Isaacson joins Oliver Goodenough, Marc Hauser and scientists who are using brain imaging and the study of psychopaths to explore the science of moral judgment and behavior, shedding fresh light on the dark side of human nature.
Walter Isaacson is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. Isaacson’s most recent book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014) is a biographical tale of the people who invented the computer, Internet and the other great innovations of the digital age. He is the author of Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992), and coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986). Isaacson is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is chair emeritus of Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in underserved communities. From 2005-2007 he was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, which oversaw the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Isaacson was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a position he held from 2009 to 2012. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the board of United Airlines, Tulane University, the Overseers of Harvard University, the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Society of American Historians, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.
Marc Hauser’s award-winning research, at the interface between evolutionary biology and cognitive neuroscience, is aimed at understanding how the minds of human and nonhuman animals evolved. By studying nonhuman animals (monkeys, apes, dogs) in both the wild and in captivity, as well as human infants and adults, Hauser’s work has unlocked some of the mysteries of language evolution, conceptual representation, social cooperation, communication and morality.
The author of five books–including The Evolution of Communication, Wild Minds, and Moral Minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong–he is currently working on a book called Evilicious: why we evolved a taste for being bad (Viking/Penguin.)
Dr. Hauser is a Harvard College Professor, Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Human Evolutionary Biology, Co-Director of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Program and Director of the Cognitive Evolution Laboratory.
Oliver Goodenough’s research and writing at the intersection of law, economics, finance, media, technology, neuroscience and behavioral biology make him an authority in several emerging areas of law and its application in society. An expert in the developing field of neuroscience and law, he has participated in experiments using fMRI brain scanning techniques to explore the neurological basis of moral reasoning in conjunction with the Humboldt University in Berlin and with the University of London.
Goodenough is the co-director of the Education and Outreach Program of the Law and Neuroscience Project, managed by the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. He is a Professor of Law and the Director of Scholarship at the Vermont Law School, a Faculty Fellow at The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where he is co-director of the Law Lab project, and an Adjunct Professor at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering.
His publications include Law, Mind and Brain, co-edited with Michael Freeman (2009) and This Business of Television, of which he was co-author. In 2000 he won the Lee Loevinger Jurimetrics Research Award for his work on law and neuroscience and in 2002, the Gruter Institute Bene Merenti Award for outstanding achievements in law and behavioral research.
Stephen Morse is a renowned expert in criminal and mental health law, whose work emphasizes individual responsibility in criminal and civil law. Professionally trained in both law and psychology, his publications include Foundations of Criminal Law (Foundation Press, with Leo Katz and Michael S. Moore). He is currently working on a book, Desert and Disease: Responsibility and Social Control.
Dr. Morse, who is Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law; is a recipient of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology’s Distinguished Contribution Award and a trustee of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C.