This author appeared at the 2010 festival. Please view the list of authors appearing at this year's festival or see our suggestions for similar authors below.
Do we have free will? Does evolutionary theory make ethics a sham? Is Catherine Zeta-Jones objectively hotter than Drew Barrymore? These are just a few of the questions that Sommers attempts to answer in A Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the Curtain, his interviews with 10 acclaimed researchers in the burgeoning field of moral psychology. Philip Zimbardo discusses his famous Stanford Prison Experiment, why he had to stop the study after only six days, and how what happened sheds light on the abuses of Abu Ghraib. Harvard neuroscientist Joshua Greene and Liane Young use MRI machines to investigate the neuroscience behind moral judgment. Jonathan Haidt tells us why we think sleeping with our siblings is wrong and how this relates to the clash between liberals and conservatives. Renowned primatologist Frans de Waal explains what his research on chimpanzees and bonobos can tell us about love and war. And much more. A Very Bad Wizard is essential reading for anyone curious about the origins and inner workings of our moral lives. Author Ian McEwan calls the book “an intellectual feast, completely engrossing.” Joshua Knobe, Assistant Professor in the Cognitive Science and Department of Philosophy at Yale University says that Sommers “has become something of a legend in the world of philosophy, not only for his profound insights into human morality, but also for the almost supernaturally funny and engaging way he presents philosophical ideas.” Sommers is a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston and holds a joint appointment with the Honors College. He is also the author of Relative Justice and contributes regularly to the Times Literary Supplement and conducts interviews for The Believer.