If you find yourself uncomfortable while hearing about genes for altruism or genes for retaliation..etc., then this book is for you. It will clear many misunderstandings about what is meant by a Selfish Gene. In fact, the book has many explanations that would have been good for Dawkins to include in later editions of his book The Selfish Gene or write about later. Like Dawkins' book, The Moral Animal talks much about altruism and how it can be understood in the new Darwinian light (based on kin selection and reciprocal altruism).
The book is surely disturbing and Wright doesn't shy away from taking ideas to their logical conclusions. Many things are counter intuitive, like for example how monogamy is (contrary to the popular belief) good for men more than women, since in the former many men will be without wives but no women without husbands. He argues that monogamy was probably adopted lately in order to maintain social stability. It is a highly intelligent and earnest book. There's a beautiful technique used here by trying to explain Darwin's life (which is described by most as "saintly") in light of Evolutionary Psychology which I enjoyed immensely, with Darwin being the moral animal
. However, like any science, some things are still speculative and need to be verified by data as Wright always reminds us.
Having said all this, I marveled at the first 300 pages or so of the book. It changed many of my views about Evolution which I took for granted. We want to think of ourselves as animals with an extra part controlling the animal. This is most certainly false. We are animals capable (but not efficient) of contemplating our being an animal. Our brains are battlefields between our nature and our nurture (unlike what "anti-genetic determinists" think about Evolutionary Psychology).
What I liked less in this book were the parts about Utilitarianism and how we can overcome our genetic tendencies. I agree with many Utilitarian ideas which I read elsewhere, but I was somehow disappointed here after the amazing explanations of Evolutionary Psychology. This part needed further elaboration and treatment, and some ideas were left midway. However, it is a great introduction to the topic and I highly recommend it. The first 300 pages easily deserve a 5-star rating.