Edit: Some friends on Facebook interpreted this post as saying that we’d be better off with no morals. No one is saying that here. I propose that we need a very small set of well considered morals, and a lot more ability to communicate, to negotiate. and to accept difference. Some argued that we need better morals rather than no morals (which is a straw man argument – no one has argued for no morals). I see that argument but I disagree, Morals regarding sexual orientation, or how a woman dresses or who she talks to, are best abandoned, and do not need anything to replace them other than mutual respect between us.
I’ve edited the title to hopefully make it clearer that I’m questioning the moral impulses that arise from our monkey brains, rather than proposing that morals be entirely abandoned.)
Most murders and many wars stem from moral outrage and judgement* – primitive instincts that derive from a hodgepodge of causes. Steven Pinker, psychologist, cognitive scientist who has written on why violence has declined) says that we’d be better off with less morality in the world.
- I realize that could be a controversial claim, but motives for murder in Australia, for example, generally relate to a personal conflict rather than killing during a robbery, for example.
Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard, and the author of:
- The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
- The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
- The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
- The Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television
among his other books.