The Moral Sense

  • by James Q. Wilson
  • Narrated by Nadia May
  • 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Wilson admits in the preface of his book that "virtue has acquired a bad name". However, people make some kind of reference to morality whenever they discuss whether or not someone is nice, dependable, or decent; whether they have a good character; and the aspects of friendship, loyalty, and moderation that are all informed by morality. Although we may disguise this language of morality as a language of personality, it is, in Wilson's words, "the language of virtue and vice" which he uncovers in his book. He goes on to say, "This book is an effort to clarify what ordinary people mean when they speak of their moral feelings and to explain, insofar as one can, the origins of those feelings."


What the Critics Say

"Lucid, elegant, magisterial." (Publishers Weekly)
"Utterly intriguing....A refreshing and timely work." (Kirkus Reviews)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

thick but satisfying

It's always refreshing to hear an author trash the argument that "everyone's morality is equally valid". At the same time being told it might be all the tiny "leaving things better than we found them" that could be a cornerstone of morality, is very interesting. The author also says morality only existing in our intellect is a fantasy of some intellectuals. The author relies on the argument that our moral sense, our better nature as it were, must exist below training and intellect and reinforcement, because if it didn't, we'd all be dead long ago. What is more gripping is the stories of individuals who defied fascist or morally bankrupt societies, and did so as much out as pure emotions like anger as higher leanings. The characters of such moral quandries become more human instead of walking polemics. Another point the author makes is that moral action (against the banality of evil) is often bolstered by consistent parenting where there was mutual respect, also very interesting. When the author makes higher moral action connect to basic emotion and motivation coming from sources within the society that's corrupt, that's when the book clicks.
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- Jamie

very interesting, too long for audio format

it's a very important subject and the author presents lots of perspectives on the issue; it's just hard to follow the detail just listening
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- Ulrich

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-24-2005
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.