Jonathan Haidt + Melvin Konner — Capitalism and Moral Evolution: A Civil Provocation

June 2, 2016

It was supposed to be a discussion about "culture and conscience" with two social scientists, as part of a public gathering of the Center for Humans and Nature at the American Museum of Natural History. But Jonathan Haidt is studying the relationship between capitalism and moral evolution, and our conversation took off from there in surprising directions. The liberal view of capitalism as essentially exploitative may remain alive and well, Haidt says. But the ironic truth of history is that capitalism actually generates liberal values as it takes root in societies. Our conversation preceded this American cultural-political season but offers provocative perspective on it.



Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His books include The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and, forthcoming in 2017, Three Stories about Capitalism: The moral psychology of economic life.

Melvin Konner is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and of Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University. His books include The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit and The Evolution of Childhood.