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Are we born good?

Claudia Bradshaw Claudia Bradshaw | 11:07 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010


A baby of 6 months can tell the difference between good and evil and not only that but most babies choose good over bad. In a recent study Professor Paul Bloom from Yale University says: 'Just about all the babies reached for the good guy'.
Remember the old saying "Give me a child until he is seven and I'll give you the man"? Do we need to be taught to be good, if we're born that way?

This goes against traditional theories of human morality which say we are born as blank slates and our morals are formed by our families and our upbringing. Evolutionary biologists argue that we have developed behaviours that promote our interests, not our morals, in order to survive.

As Tom points out:

Generations of psychologists back to Freud believed (or assumed) we start life as amoral blank slates. It's up to our parents and the rest of society to teach us right from wrong. A newborn baby could be Hitler or Gandhi, depending on how he is raised.

But is it good for us to be born good? Christopher Peterson quotes Leo Durocher "Nice guys finish last" and asks on his blog whether being good benefits us:

Do we thank nice people? Do we take obvious delight in them? Do we prefer the nice guys in the world?

Are we born good or are we taught to be good?

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