Tuesday Jan 22, 2008

The Moral Instinct - fascinating Steven Pinker article

Alec MuffettI'm indebted to Alec Muffett as a commment on his "How Ethical Are You ?" blog entry lead me to a fascinating article in the New York Times entitled "The Moral Instinct".

Steven Pinker examines the basis of our moral instincts at some length and with great insight. Well worth a read.

Talking of ethics with Alec I briefly mentioned Lost in the Cosmos which, while being a parody of self-help books, asks searching questions. I read it many years ago now but am often reminded of it when pondering moral issues.

One of the ideas presented by Steven Pinker is that of "Reasoning" versus "Rationalizing" - the former leads us to a conclusion, the latter starts at the conclusion and works the other way. He also writes about the moral equivalent of optical illusions - questions that subvert our apparently rational moral senses.

Essential reading.

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PeteH

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