Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our Moral Minds

Moral Minds:  The Nature of Right and Wrong by Marc D Hauser,  2006,  Harper Collins

Just received this book as a Christmas present from my 21 year old son.  Have already been reading parts of it,  and it seems  chock full of information which is philosophical and useful.  The Humean and Kantian components of our moral faculty  is discussed in the light of offenses such as adultery and murder;  there is also a chapter entitled,  "Justice for All"  which examines Rawls and the concept of fair distribution.  Fascinating stuff,  and very necessary if we want to manouver our was through the current cultural and political landscape.

The evolution of our moral faculty, how it occurred,  and the manner with which  we have made use  of this deontologically;  taken together with questions concerning how the epistemology of morality and ethics may be set forth  are among the most important questions  -  or meta-questions -  of philosophical jurisprudence.  Perhaps most compelling  is the idea set forth that our normative principles can themselves lead to injustice.  Two intriguing ideas are the exploration of  a.the selfishness which is the second half of The Golden Rule ,  which exists in all the major religions of the world;  and b.  the concept that religious faith is necessary not to create morality but rather to prevent its decay.    An analogy between the development of language and the evolution of morality  is an especially interesting theory from the author. 

"Morals excite passions,  and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality,  therefore,  are not conclusions of our reason."~David Hume,  British Empiricist

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