*The Moral Molecule*

by on May 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

That is the new book by Paul Zak, and the subtitle is The Source of Love and Prosperity, namely oxytocin.  Here is a recent article by Paul, related to the book.

Daniel Klein May 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I enjoyed Paul Zak’s WSJ piece. It sounds like oxytocin goes with the amiable side of the Smithian amiable-respectable spiral (TMS, 23).

Might being injected with oxytocin make you too amiable, in the sense that you are too sensitive to the parts to which your amiability, or compassion, is directed, thus lessening your virtue on the respectable side — making you less impartial?

Todd May 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Perfect gift for someone who complains that their unread copy of “The God Gene” looks lonely on the bookshelf.

Gene Callahan May 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

And you can put a bottle of oxytocin up there with them, and they’ll love each other!

Enrique May 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm

There is no moral molecule (bullocks, as wolfers would say) — oxytocin does not cause moral behavior, for one could just as well argue that moral behavior cause an increase in oxytocin

Ray Lopez May 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Yes, well said, though I bet artificially injecting oxytocin, not to be confused with Oxycontin, might make a shady person (temporarily) more moral.

Hendrick Lee May 9, 2012 at 12:41 am

A gross oversimplification, oxytocin is a molecule related to group identity and bonding.

This bonding molecule can also be the root of racism, tribal warfare, and vengeance (when we feel betrayed by our peers). There is no single molecule or single gene or single concept that encompasses the complex notion of morality, and anyone who tells you otherwise needs to show extraordinary evidence.

here is a science daily article summing up the dark side of oxytocin. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801160306.htm

Åse May 9, 2012 at 1:42 am
Jason May 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Maybe recessions and booms are nothing more than virtuous and vicious cycles of society-wide oxytocin levels. This could explain the “good governance factor” for prosperity. Maybe economics has nothing to do with levels of taxation or regulation or any other thing that we always seem to argue about. Maybe it’s just society-wide oxytocin levels.

Tyler did say that the recent EU elections were destructive for trust.

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