Further reading for the Virtue Signaling book

This list is for my ebook Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian politics & free speech, available here.

If you want to explore virtue signaling in more detail, here are some suggested readings: 4 other books by me, plus about 100 books by other people. (For Geoffrey’s 20 papers recommended in the ebook, see the ‘Research’ links on this site here.)

[For each book, I include some comments in brackets that explain why the book’s good, and how it relates to the themes in Virtue Signaling.]

Geoffrey Miller’s books

All four of my books include a fair amount on virtue-signaling, from the origins of moral virtues in The mating mind, to romantic virtue-signaling in Mating intelligence, to consumerist virtue-signaling in Spent, to cultivating and displaying moral virtues in Mate.

Miller, Geoffrey F. (2000). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. NY: Doubleday. [My theory about how the human mind evolved through mutual mate choice, to display traits including moral virtues, intelligence, creativity, language abilities, art, music, and humor as fitness-indicators] link

Geher, Glenn, & Miller, Geoffrey F. (Eds.).  (2008). Mating intelligence: Sex, relationships, and the mind’s reproductive system.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. [An edited volume of evolutionary psychology essays on the mental traits that are attractive in courtship, that show off our moral virtues, personality traits, sexual strategies, intelligence, and creativity] link

Miller, Geoffrey F. (2009). Spent: Sex, evolution, and consumer behavior. NY: Viking. [A Darwinian critique of runaway consumerism that explores how we use goods and services to signal our moral virtues, wealth, taste, intelligence, and personality traits] ink

Max, Tucker, & Miller, Geoffrey (2015). Mate: Become the man that women want. NY: Little, Brown, & Co. (Published in paperback as What women want.) [A popular book of dating advice for young single guys, based on evolutionary psychology principles and findings, with a focus on mating ethics and signaling mental and moral virtues] link

Other people’s books

I’ve listed the 100 or so books that I’ve found most helpful in understanding virtue-signaling, and that connect most directly to the essays in this book. They’re in alphabetical order by author last name.

There’s no distinct research field called ‘Virtue-Signaling Studies’ yet, so we have to be interdisciplinary.  These books are from a wide range of fields: evolutionary biology, animal behavior, primate sexuality, behavior genetics, evolutionary psychology, personality psychology, moral psychology, neuroscience, economics, game theory, anthropology, political science, moral philosophy, Effective Altruism, university politics, current affairs, artificial intelligence, and science fiction.

Note: just because I recommend these books doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say. In some cases, I strongly disagree with most of their ideas. But those ideas can still be valuable as provocations to think about virtue-signaling in new ways, or as counter-points to some of my arguments, or as interesting examples of virtue-signaling in their own right.

Banks, Iain M. (2010). Surface detail. London: Orbit. [I’m a big fan of Bank’s ‘Culture’ series of science fiction novels; this one is especially harrowing and poignant about moral issues, and in depicting different kinds of virtue signaling by different futuristic cultures] link

Baron-Cohen, Simon (2004). The essential difference: Male and female brains and the truth about autism. NY: Basic Books. [A classic look at Aspergers, autism, and neurodiversity by a leading expert at Cambridge; most relevant to the Google memo & neurodiversity essays] link

Binmore, Ken (2007). Game theory: A very short introduction. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A short, relatively simple intro to game theory, which is crucial to signaling theory, by a leading game theorist who was my old boss at the UCL] link

Binmore, Ken (2011). Natural justice. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A science of morals based on game theory, social contracts, and empathy] link

Bloom, Paul (2016).  Against empathy: The case for rational compassion. NY: HarperCollins. [A Yale psychology professor argues that empathy and empathy-displays (a form of virtue signaling) are a bad basis for public morality and a good society] link

Boghossian, Peter, & Lindsay, James (2019). How to have impossible conversations: A very practical guide. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press. [Two authors at the center of the campus free speech debates give tips on how to have constructive conversations about polarizing topics, without falling into virtue signaling] link

Bostrom, Nick (2014). Superintelligence: Paths, dangers, strategies. Oxford, UK: Oxford U. Press. [A difficult, alarming book by a stone cold genius, about the most important existential risk that humans face in the 21st century: Artificial General Intelligence. The key dangers concern the ‘value alignment’ problem, which concerns virtue signaling by humans and machines.] link

Bowles, Samuel (2016). The moral economy: Why good incentives are no substitute for good citizens. New Haven, CN: Yale U. Press. [A leading behavioral economist explores how to structure economic incentives to promote civic virtues and the greater good.] link

Boyd, Robert, & Silk, Joan B. (2017). How humans evolved (8th Ed.). NY: W. W. Norton. [An excellent textbook by ASU anthropologists on human origins and the evolution of social and moral life] link

Boyer, Pascal (2018). Minds make societies: How cognition explains the world humans create. New Haven, CN: Yale U. Press. [A leading cognitive anthropologist explores the origins of morality, religion, and society.] link

Bradbury, Jack W., & Vehrencamp Sandra L. (2011).  Principles of animal communication (2nd Ed.).  Oxford, UK: Sinauer Associates. [An excellent textbook exploring animal communication from an evolutionary signaling theory perspective.] link

Brady, Michael S., & Pritchard, Duncan H. (Eds.). (2004). Moral and epistemic virtues. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. [Leading moral philosophers explore virtue ethics.] link

Brennan, Jason (2017). Against democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [Given people’s tendencies to virtue signal rather than making rational public choices, can democracy work in the long run? Brennan argues not….] link

Brennan, Jason, & Paworski, Peter (2015).  Markets without limits: Moral virtues and commercial interests. NY: Routledge. [Do free markets corrode our character and undermine civic virtues? These public policy experts argue not.] link

Brooks, David (2015). The road to character. NY; Random House. [A NY Times columnist/author explores how to cultivate genuine virtues.] link

Buss, David, & Hawley, Patricia H. (Eds.) (2010).  The evolution of personality and individual differences. NY: Oxford U. Press. [Evolutionary psychologists explore why there are still individual differences in personality, sexual strategies, and moral virtues, after all these years of selection; includes a chapter by me.] link

Buss, David (2019). Evolutionary psychology (6th Ed.). NY: Routledge. [The leading textbook on evolutionary psychology and the origins or social and moral life.] link

Buss, David (Ed.). (2015). Handbook of evolutionary psychology (2nd Ed.). NY: Wiley. [A serious two-volume compilation of the best evolutionary psychology research, including chapters on cooperation, conflict, culture, politics, public policy, and law.] link

Cain, Susan (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. NY: Random House. [This is a great bestseller on introversion; introverts are reluctant to virtue signal as much as extroverts do, and introversion is a key form of neurodiversity.] link

Campbell, Bradley, & Manning, Jason (2018). The rise of victimhood culture: Microaggressions, safe spaces, and the new culture wars. NY: Palgrave Macmillan. [Explores the recent controversies over campus free speech; relates to the essays on neurodiversity and cultural diversity.] link

Caplan, Bryan (2011). The myth of the rational voter: Why democracies choose bad policies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [Argues that irrational signaling by voters and politicians undermines the effectiveness of democracy.] link

Caplan, Bryan (2018).  The case against education: Why the education system is a waste of time and money. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [Educational credentialism is a costly and often pointless signaling system, according to this provocative economist.] link

Caruso, Gregg, & Flanagan, Owen (Eds.). (2018). Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, morals, and purpose in the age of neuroscience. NY: Oxford U. Press. [Explores ‘third-wave existentialism’ and how neuroscience research is sparking a new crisis of our understanding of ethics and moral psychology.] link

Christakis, Nicholas A. (2019). Blueprint: The evolutionary origins of a good society. NY: Little, Brown. [A Yale sociologist explores how evolution endowed human nature with the moral building blocks of a good society.] link

Cochran, Gregory, & Harpending, Henry (2010). The 10,000 year explosion: How civilization accelerated human evolution. NY: Basic Books. [Argues that human evolution, including moral evolution, didn’t stop in prehistory, but accelerated since the rise of civilization.] link

Cowen, Tyler (2018). Stubborn attachments: A vision for a society of free, prosperous, and responsible individuals. NY: Stripe Pres. [An economist makes the moral case for economic growth as a key civilizational value, and for reason over do-gooding.] link

Danaher, John, & McArthur, Neil (Eds.). (2017). Robot sex: Social and ethical implications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Sexbots are coming, like it or not; these essays explore their ethical implications and the ways people will virtue signal about them.] link

Darwin, Charles (1871/1981). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [The classic analysis of how evolution shaped human nature, including our moral instincts.] link

De Waal, Frans (2010). The age of empathy: Nature’s lessons for a kinder society. NY: Broadway Books. [A leading primatologist explores the origins of empathy in animals and humans.] link

Decety, Jean, & Wheatley, Thalia (Eds.). (2017). The moral brain: A multidisciplinary perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [An outstanding review of recent research on moral psychology and its social implications.] link

Dikötter, Frank (2016). The cultural revolution: A people’s history, 1962-1976. NY: Bloomsbury Press. [The Chinese cultural revolution was an especially brutal example of runaway Leftist virtue signaling; this is the definitive account by a leading historian of China.] link

Dixson, Alan (2013). Primate sexuality: Comparative studies of the prosimians, monkeys, apes, and humans. (2nd Ed.). NY: Oxford U. Press. [A magisterial textbook on the evolution of primate sexuality, which set the stage for the the origins of human morality.] link

Donovan, Jack (2012). The way of men. Dissonant Hum. [A radical, influential, Red Pill manifesto on the origins of distinctively masculine virtues.] link

Dreger, Alice (2015). Galileo’s middle finger: Heretics, activists, and one scholar’s search for justice. NY: Penguin. [A bioethics professor explores the conflict between social justice activists and free speech advocates on American campuses.] link

Eagleton, Terry (1991). Ideology: An introduction. London: Verso. [A cultural theory professor gives a short overview of the intellectual history behind ideology.] link

Flanagan, Owen (1991). Varieties of moral personality: Ethics and psychological realism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [A moral philosophy professor, who had a big influence on my thinking, tries to develop a more realistic view of human morality, including individual differences.] link

Flesch, William (2008). Comeuppance: Costly signaling, altruistic punishment, and other biological components of fiction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press. [A literature professor weaves together evolutionary psychology, signaling theory, and gossip dynamics to understand the moral dimension of novels.] link

Frank, Robert (2012). The Darwin economy: Liberty, competition, and the common good. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [A Cornell economist who deeply influenced my ‘Spent’ book integrates evolutionary theory, signaling, and ethics to understand economic life.] link

Frank, Thomas (1998). The conquest of cool: Business culture, counterculture, and the rise of hip consumerism. Chicago, IL: U. Chicago Press. [How the ad industry co-opted the 1960s sexual revolution to sell ‘hip’ stuff to Boomers; a great cultural analysis of consumerism as signaling.] link

Funder, David C. (2015). The personality puzzle (7th Ed.). NY: W. W. Norton. [A great textbook about personality traits and the individual differences that people signal in social life.] link

Geary, David C. (2009). Male, female: The evolution of sex differences (2nd Ed.). Washington, CA: American Psychological Association. [A leading evolutionary psychologist’s textbook on all the research about sex differences; relevant to the Google memo essay.] link

Gintis, Herbert (2016). Individuality and entanglement: The moral and material basis of social life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [An economist integrates evolutionary biology, psychology, and moral philosophy to understand the social games that people play.] link

Grandin, Temple, & Barron, Sean (2017). Unwritten rules of social relationships: Decoding social mysteries through the unique perspectives of autism. NY: Future Horizons. [A leader autism spokeswoman shows how hard it can be for the neurodivergent to understand social signals; relevant to the neurodiversity essay.] link

Greene, Joshua (2014). Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them. NY: Penguin. [Director of Harvard’s Moral Cognition Lab reviews the research on moral psychology and how it plays out in the social and political realms.] link

Haidt, Jonathan (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. NY: Vintage. [A must-read book on the moral psychology of partisanship and political signaling, by an NYU social psychologist who deeply influenced my thinking.] link

Harris, John (2016). How to be good: The possibility of moral enhancement. Oxford, UK: Oxford U. Press. [A controversial bioethics professor explores diverse strategies for improving people’s morality, from the genetic through the cultural to the technological.] link

Harris, Sam (2010). The moral landscape: How science can determine human values. NY: Free Press. [One of the world’s most famous atheists argues that science, not religion, offers the best basis for virtue and a good society.] link

Harris, Sam (2013). Lying. NY: Four Elephants Press. [A short manifesto for radical honesty over ‘white lies’ (face-saving signaling).] link

Hertwig, Ralph, & Hoffrage, Ulrich, & the ABC Research Group (2012). Simple heuristics in a social world. Oxford, UK: Oxford U. Press. [A cutting-edge German research group (that I worked with a while ago) explores how we make fast-and-frugal inferences about people’s traits from their behaviors and signals.] link

Holland, John H. (2014). Signals and boundaries: Building blocks for complex adaptive systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [An influential cognitive scientist dives deep into how signals can organize complex adaptive systems, from organisms to societies.] link

Jussim, Lee (2012). Social perception and social reality: Why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A Rutgers psychology professor reviews his startling researching showing that most social stereotypes are surprisingly accurate: social signals are more reliable than we think.] link

Kahane, Adam (2017). Collaborating with the enemy: How to work with people you don’t agree with or like or trust. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler. [Given partisan signaling, how can we work with people who don’t share our values?] link

Keltner, Dacher (2016). The power paradox: How we gain and lose influence. NY: Penguin Books. [A UC Berkeley social psychologist explores how to achieve and signal power — and use it for the greater good.] link

Kenrich, Douglas T., & Griskevicius, Vladas (2013). The rational animal: How evolution made us smarter than we think. NY: Basic Books. [Two of my favorite evolutionary psychologists explore the mental adaptations that lead to inner conflict and hypocritical signaling.] link

Knopik, Valerie S., Neiderhiser, Jenae M., DeFries, John C, & Plomin, R. (2016).  Behavioral genetics (7th Ed.).  NY: Worth. [The leading behavior genetics textbook, showing that all mental traits, including the ones we love to signal, are heritable.] link

Land, Nick (2018). Fanged noumena: Collected writings 1987-2007 (5th Ed.). Urbanomic/Sequence Press. [Collected essays from a deep, difficult philosopher who inspired the Neoreaction and upset a lot of complacent liberal virtue signaling.] link

Larsen, Randy J., & Buss, David (2017). Personality psychology: Domains of knowledge about human nature (6th Ed.). NY: McGraw-Hill. [A good textbook on the personality traits worth signaling.] link

Lukianoff, Greg (2014). Unlearning liberty: Campus censorship and the end of American debate. NY: Encounter Books. [A great introduction to the First Amendment and erosion of free speech at American universities, by the constitutional lawyer who runs the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.] link

Lukianoff, Greg, & Haidt, Jonathan (2018). The coddling of the American mind: How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure. NY: Penguin Press. [A must-read examination of how over-indulgent parenting created a Gen Z students hyper-sensitive to perceived offense and oppression, prone to virtue signaling, and censorious towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them.] link

MacAskill, William (2016). Doing good better: How Effective Altruism can help you make a difference. NY: Penguin. [This is an assigned book in my Effective Altruism class; it’s a great, accessible work by the Oxford moral philosopher who co-founded the Effective Altruism movement; it explains how to get away from virtue signaling and actually do some good in the world.] link

MacIntyre, Alasdair (2007). After virtue: A study in moral theory (3rd Ed.). Notre Dame, IN: U. Notre Dame Press. [A classic work on virtue ethics from a leading moral philosopher.] link

Matthews, Gerald, Deary, Ian, & Whiteman, Martha C. (2009).  Personality traits (3rd Ed.).  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. [A great textbook on the personality traits that are heritable, stable, predictive, and worth signaling.] link

McClosky, Deirdre (2006). The bourgeois virtues: Ethics for an age of commerce. Chicago, IL: U. Chicago Press. [I love this book. It’s about the virtue ethics that people need to cultivate given capitalism, and it shows how historical & cultural contexts can amplify some human moral instincts in dramatic ways.] link

McGrath, Titania (2019). Woke: A guide to social justice. Edinburgh, UK: Constable. [An amusing satirical introduction to modern virtue signaling by social justice warriors, and how it shapes current culture.] link

Moldbug, Mencius (2015). An open letter to open-minded progressives. Unqualified Reservations. [A gentle introduction to the Neoreaction movement by one of its most influential, wittiest, and easy-to-read leaders.] link

Murphy, Jack (2018). Democrat to deplorable: Why nine million Obama voters ditched the Democrats and embraced Donald Trump.  Jack Murphy Live. [A compelling look at how runaway virtue signaling by the Left drove many Americans to vote for Trump.] link

Nelson, Phillip J., & Greene, Kenneth V. (2003). Signaling goodness: Social rules and public choice. Ann Arbor, MI: U. Michigan Press. [Two economists develop an interesting general theory of virtue signaling, voting, and charity giving.] link

Nesse, Randolph M. (Ed.). (2001).  Evolution and the capacity for commitment.  NY: Russell Sage Foundation. [This edited volume presents a rich set of insights about how humans evolved to signal their commitment-related virtues such as trustworthiness, patience, and self-restraint.] link

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1887/2014).  On the genealogy of morals. NY: Penguin Classics. [The must-read classic by the 19th century’s most important philosopher; it connects the biology of power, the class structures of civilizations, and the ways that people signal their ‘pagan virtues’ versus ‘Christian virtues’, analogous to modern Right vs. Left virtues.] link

Pentland, Alex (2010). Honest signals: How they shape our world. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [A famous MIT computer scientist connects biological signaling theory to modern behavior in social networks and social media.] link

Persson, Ingmar, & Savulescu, Julian (2014). Unfit for the future: The need for moral enhancement. Oxford, UK: Oxford U. Press. [Can we switch from cheap-talk virtue-signaling to rational altruism through purely cultural changes, or do we need genetic, biomedical, and technological enhancements to become better people?] link

Peterson, Jordan B. (2018). 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos. NY: Random House. [The world’s most influential psychologist argues that young people need to cultivate their actual virtues before they run around virtue signaling.] link

Pinker, Steven (2002). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature.  NY: Penguin/Putnam. [An excellent, vivid, scholarly argument against the Leftist blank slate dogma by the famous Harvard evolutionary psychologist; I’ve often assigned it in classes.] link

Pinker, Steven (2012). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. NY: Penguin. [Pinker analyzes the historical, cultural, economic, and psychological trends that massively reduced human violence in the last thousand years, as the virtue of kindness replaces the virtue of dominance.] link

Pinker, Steven (2019). Enlightenment now: The case for reason, science, humanism, and progress. NY: Penguin. [Pinker argues that we need to revive the Enlightenment virtues or rationality, free speech, and objectivity, against the temptations of superficial virtue signaling, partisanship, parochialism, and cheap passions.] link

Putnam, Robert (2001). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. NY: Touchstone Books. [a Harvard professor of public policy argues that we need to revive our civic virtues of neighborliness and connectedness, in an era of isolation and cheap talk.] link

Rauch, Jonathan (2013). Kindly inquisitors: The new attacks on free thought. Chicago: U. Chicago Press. [A great, classic analysis of how runaway kindness-signaling undermines free speech and academic integrity.] link

Ridley, Matt (1997). The origins of virtue: Human instincts and the evolution of cooperation.  NY: Viking. [This was one of the first popular evolutionary psychology books to take moral virtues seriously, and it had a big impact on my book The Mating Mind.] link

Ridley, Matt (2010).  The rational optimist: How prosperity evolves. NY: HarperCollins. [A leading British popular science writer challenges much of the virtue signaling that makes people distrust free markets and free speech.] link

Richie, Stuart (2016). Intelligence: All that matters. NY: Teach Yourself. [A great short introduction to intelligence and IQ research, and its social implications; important for understanding intelligence-signaling in relation to virtue-signaling.] link

Ronson, Jon (2015). So you’ve been publicly shamed. NY: Riverhead Books. [How virtue signaling plus social media led to this golden age of public shaming as a form of social control.] link

Rubinstein, Dustin R., & Alcock, John (2018). Animal behavior: An evolutionary approach (11th Ed.). NY: Sinauer Associates. [Want to understand the roots of signaling? Here’s an excellent textbook on animal behavior, including the signaling theory behind animal communication.] link

Russell, Daniel C. (Ed.). (2013). The Cambridge companion to virtue ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U. Press. [Leading moral philosophers explore how virtue ethics applies in domains like business, politics, bioethics, and the environment.] link

Sasse, Ben (2018). Them: Why we hate each other – and how to heal. NY: St. Martin’s Press. [A U.S. Senator explores how isolation and rootlessness lead to increased partisanship, hopelessness, and the collapse of civic virtues.] link

Searcy, William A., & Nowicki, Stephen (2005). The evolution of animal communication: Reliability and deception in signaling systems. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [A great mid-level academic book on signaling theory in animal communication, which is the foundation of virtue signaling.] link

Segerstråle, Ullica (2000). Defenders of the truth: The sociology debate. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A sociology professor examines how academic virtue signaling and political ideologies shaped the 1970s sociobiology debates, when the Marxist Leftists Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, and Leon Kamin challenged the new evolutionary science of human nature being developed by Edward Wilson, Robert Trivers, and Richard Dawkins.] link

Shapiro, Ben (2010). The right side of history: How reason and moral purpose made the West great. NY: Broadside Books. [An influential young conservative defends Western Civilization and Judeo-Christian values against Leftist virtue signaling.] link

Shermer, Michael (2016). The moral arc: How science makes us better people. NY: Griffin. [The publisher of Skeptic magazine explores how rationality and empiricism have challenged our moral intuitions and reshaped ethics over the last few centuries.] link

Silberman, Steve (2015). Neurotribes: The legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity. NY: Penguin. [A good introduction to autism, Aspergers, and neurodiversity.] link

Simler, Kevin, & Hanson, Robin (2017). The elephant in the brain: Hidden motives in everyday life. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A brilliant economist and a tech writer show how self-deceptive signaling explains a lot of the mysteries about modern human behavior.] link

Singer, Peter (2015). The most good you can do: How Effective Altruism is changing ideas about living ethically. New Haven, CN: Yale U. Press. [The world’s most influential moral philosopher explains how you can escape cheap-talking signaling and actually improve the world through Effective Altruism.] link

Singer, Peter (2017). Ethics in the real world: 82 brief essays on things that matter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press. [Virtue ethics offers a good description of human moral psychology, but can utilitarianism offer a more coherent prescriptive ethical framework? A leading moral philosopher argues yes, across a huge variety of issues.] link

Skyrms, Brian (2010). Signals: Evolution, learning, and information. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A distinguished philosopher of science explores how signaling theory plays out in evolution, learning, and society.] link

Smith, Adam (1759/2010). The theory of moral sentiments. NY: Penguin Classics. [The most influential economist in history shows how moral instincts, virtues, and conscience have shaped human markets, politics, and institutions.] link

Smith, Vernon, & Wilson, Bart J. (2019). Humanomics: Moral sentiments and the wealth of nations for the twenty-first century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U. Press. [The Nobel Prize-winning economist show how Adam Smith’s theory of moral sentiments can re-humanize economics and behavioral science.] link

Sober, Eliot, & Wilson, David S. (1998).  Unto others: The evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press. [A leading philosopher of biology and an evolutionary biologist argue that group selection shaped human moral virtues; this book had a big impact on my book The Mating Mind.] link

Sowell, Thomas (2007). A conflict of visions: Ideological origins of political struggles. NY: Basic Books. [An influential conservative thinker shows how political partisanship often boils down to conflicting views of human nature: a ‘constrained’ (usually Right/conservative) view that emphasizes the stability of human nature, and an ‘unconstrained’ (usually Left/progressive) view that emphasizes human perfectibility.] link

Stewart-Williams, Steve (2018). The ape that understood the universe: How the mind and culture evolve. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U. Press. [A great, readable, up-to-date overview of evolutionary psychology, including its implications for morality and politics.] link

Todd, Benjamin (2016). 80,000 hours: Finding a fulfilling career that does good.  NY: CreateSpace. [What are the most virtuous careers and callings to pursue? Here’s an Effective Altruism perspective on cultivating a truly virtuous work life — rather than just a job that virtue signals.] link

Wilson, David Sloan (2015). Does altruism exist? Culture, genes, and the welfare of others. New Haven, CN: Yale U. Press. [A progressive evolutionary biologist explores the implications of group selection for human morality and everyday life.] link

Wilson, David Sloan (2019). This view of life: Completing the Darwinian revolution. NY: Pantheon. [How to apply evolutionary insights about human nature to current issues in morality, politics, and environmental stewardship.] link

Wrangham, Richard (2019). The goodness paradox: The strange relationship between virtue and violence in human evolution. NY: Pantheon. [A Harvard evolutionary anthropologist explores how human self-domestication, language, and capital punishment hugely reduced violence and increased our moral virtues over the last couple of million years.] link

Veblen, Thorstein (1899/2009). The theory of the leisure class. NY: Oxford U. Press. [A brilliant, snarky, insightful exploration of conspicuous consumption as a form of wealth-signaling, taste-signaling, and virtue signaling; this deeply influenced my book Spent.] link

Zahavi, Amotz, & Zahavi, Avishag (1997). The handicap principle: A missing piece of Darwin's puzzle.  NY: Oxford U. Press. [The brilliant work on evolutionary signaling theory that’s reviewed in the second essay of this book.] link

Zimmerman, Aaron, Jones, Karen, & Timmons, Mark (Eds.). (2018). The Routledge handbook of moral epistemology. NY: Routledge. [Diverse researchers review the state of the art on moral cognition, moral learning, and the role of moral knowledge in political movements.] link

Zuboff, Shoshana (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. NY: PublicAffairs. [A Harvard business school professor analyzes how social media, digital marketing, and behavioral prediction are reshaping public life and the social order.] link