TVOL is pleased to explore the question “Is there a universal morality?” with the help of philosophers and scientists at the forefront of studying morality in light of “this view of life”. Our fifteen essayists provided a surprising diversity of answers to the question.
Universal moral intuitions are like anchors, invisible from the surface but immovably secured to the seabed, whereas culturally prevalent moral norms are like buoys on the surface of the water, available to direct observation.
Tinbergen’s four questions apply to any variation-and-selection process, including but not restricted to genetic evolution. Accordingly, they can be insightful for the study of moral universals and particulars as products of human genetic and cultural evolution.
Properly understood, morality is not a burden; it is an effective means for increasing the benefits of cooperation, especially emotional well-being resulting from sustained cooperation with family, friends, and community.
You don’t need much in the way of normative assumptions to convert facts into values. Consider the assertion: "All else being equal, more wellbeing is better than less." Who could object? It’s all but definitionally true.
Most comparative studies of human moral judgment have been restricted to large-scale, industrialized populations, but critical tests of putative universals must include small-scale societies.
The study of social Darwinism in the 19th century shows us when our inner desires are structured in a complete, totalizing, and perfect way that provides continuity and stability to the nation, this is always done at the expense of science.
Jonathan Haidt analyzes the shortcomings of human reasoning and bets $10,000 that Harris will not be swayed by reason alone.The New Atheist Sam Harris recently offered to pay $10,000 to anyone who can disprove his arguments about morality. Jonathan Haidt analyzes the nature of reasoning, and the ease with which reason becomes a servant of the passions. He bets $10,000 that Harris will not change his mind.
What novel insights can evolutionary approaches provide about human morality? What novel insights can evolutionary approaches provide about human morality? Jonathan Haidt describes his work and inspirations for understanding six universal moral foundations and the ecstasy of self-transcendence (transpersonal identification) common in religious and spiritual experiences.
Are there ‘bad’ kinds of moralizing?Are there ‘bad’ kinds of moralizing? If so, does understanding morality as the product of evolutionary processes (of the biological and cultural kind) reveal why ‘bad’ moralizing has so persistently existed and allow us to sort out the ‘bad’ from the ‘good’?
Given that morality is so important, you’d think we’d want to make sure that we were doing it right.Given that morality is so important, you’d think we’d want to make sure that we were doing it right. That is, you’d think that we would insist on knowing why we have the beliefs that we have, how those beliefs came into being, who they benefit, and where they are likely to lead us.
Atheism will need to be combined with something else, something more constructive than its opposition to religion, to be relevant to our lives.Atheism will need to be combined with something else, something more constructive than its opposition to religion, to be relevant to our lives