November 1, 2006

LIBERATION BIOLOGY (via Dale light):

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong (NICHOLAS WADE, 10/31/06, NY Times)

Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, has built on this idea to propose that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, “Moral Minds” (HarperCollins 2006), he argues that the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind. [...]

The moral grammar too, in Dr. Hauser’s view, is a system for generating moral behavior and not a list of specific rules. It constrains human behavior so tightly that many rules are in fact the same or very similar in every society — do as you would be done by; care for children and the weak; don’t kill; avoid adultery and incest; don’t cheat, steal or lie.

But it also allows for variations, since cultures can assign different weights to the elements of the grammar’s calculations. Thus one society may ban abortion, another may see infanticide as a moral duty in certain circumstances. Or as Kipling observed, “The wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Katmandu, and the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.” [...]

His proposal of a moral grammar emerges from a collaboration with Dr. Chomsky, who had taken an interest in Dr. Hauser’s ideas about animal communication.

One thing you really have to admire the Darwinists for: early on in the Age of Reason it appeared that science might apply logic so rigorously as to only accept theories that made sense and were supported by evidence and experimentation, but the true believers refused to be so bound, lest they not be able to propound such flatly self-contradictory nonsense. By breaking free of reason they can argue that the thing and its exact opposite and everything in between are functions of the iron laws of nature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 1, 2006 7:21 AM

I think C.S. Lewis had a much better explanation for how the moral code got there. Everything else is a parrot of what he said (similar morals between cultures and the like).

Posted by: Jay at November 1, 2006 11:43 AM

It's in Paul's letter to the Romans, in the classical and Thomistic concept of natural law, and it's all throughout Spencer's sociology.

To understand the moral law written in our hearts it is not necessary to posit innate moral rules. It is sufficient to see that social systems which deviate from the natural law go under while those which follow it surpass.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 1, 2006 7:41 PM