Morris B. Hoffman, "The Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury" (Cambridge UP, 2014)


Why do we feel guilty--and sometimes hurt ourselves--when we harm someone? Why do we become angry--and sometimes violent--when we see other people being harmed? Why do we forgive ourselves and others after a transgression even though "the rules" say we really shouldn't? In his fascinating book The Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Judge Morris B. Hoffman attempts to answer these questions with reference to evolutionary psychology. As a working judge, Hoffman is in an excellent position to explore the dynamics of our instincts to punish and forgive. We are, he says, evolved to punish "cheaters"--ourselves and others--so as to maintain all-important bonds of trust and cooperation. But we are also evolved not to take punishment too far. When correction becomes too costly, we forgive so as to maintain social solidarity. Listen in to our fascinating discussion.

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Marshall Poe

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