Morality: Your Inner Chimp

A fantastic podcast aired on April 28, 2007 and profiled on Chicago's WBEZ This American Life. Listen to more on the Science of Morality.

Turns out, when faced with moral dilemmas, there is a band of chimps in our brains, duking it out. And it requires some alpha chimp arbitration!

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Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? We peer inside the brains of people contemplating moral dilemmas, watch chimps at a primate research center share blackberries, observe a playgroup of 3 year-olds fighting over toys, and tour the country's first penitentiary, Eastern State Prison. Also: the story of land grabbing, indentured servitude and slum lording in the fourth grade.

Then we'll move from inner chimp to outer. Dr. Frans de Waals lets us watch a chimp fight at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. And we'll turn our navel-gazing toward the furrier navels of the chimps to learn a little more about this thing called morality: where it comes from, its evolutionary benefit, and why you can't guilt-trip an ape.