14 January 2008

Pinker's instinct correct, as usual

If Steven Pinker's excellent new article for the New York Times magazine on "the moral instinct" is any indication, Third Culture thinkers are starting to go beyond simplistic evolutionary ethics. It would sound like special pleading coming from me, but when Pinker leaves a role for "moral reasoning" alongside science, I have to agree:
Morality, then, is still something larger than our inherited moral sense, and the new science of the moral sense does not make moral reasoning and conviction obsolete.
There could be no strictly scientific account of morality, if only for the simple reason that in order to know what falls under the proper domain of the moral, we must make a moral judgment. The question is, What is a science of morality a science of? And there couldn't be a scientific answer to that question. Luckily, that does not mean there is no answer.

I devote a chapter of The Secular Conscience ("Darwin Made Me Do It") to these issues. Maybe I'll have a chance to discuss them with Steve during our trip into the Amazon this May.

1 comment:

martino said...

What is a science of morality a science of? And there couldn't be a scientific answer to that question.
This is a nonsensical question as far as I can see e.g.
"What is a science of physics a science of? And there couldn't be a scientific answer to that question." So what?