Saturday, 20 November 2010

Book: The Myth of Morality

I've added a new book to my "Good Books" section. The Myth of Morality by Richard Joyce.
"In The Myth of Morality, Richard Joyce argues that moral discourse is hopelessly flawed. At the heart of ordinary moral judgements is a notion of moral inescapability, or practical authority, which, upon investigation, cannot be reasonably defended. Joyce argues that natural selection is to blame, in that it has provided us with a tendency to invest the world with values that it does not contain, and demands that it does not make. Should we therefore do away with morality, as we did away with other faulty notions such as witches? Possibly not. We may be able to carry on with morality as a 'useful fiction' - allowing it to have a regulative influence on our lives and decisions, perhaps even playing a central role - while not committing ourselves to believing or asserting falsehoods, and thus not being subject to accusations of 'error'."

Most talk of "morality" goes over my head. In my younger years, during one of those lovely philosophical discussions only teenagers can have, I even presented the argument that human conscience is the inherent avoidance of actions which tells us if we do X to Y, Y or their associates will seek revenge. The rest of human morality can be explained by attempts to feel superior, to garner respect and gain allies.

People tend to disagree with me on that subject. It seems whilst they can agree this is most likely how human morality evolved, people seem horrified that I would think this the general rationale behind "moral actions". They often point to the incredibly rare acts of self-sacrifice, of people throwing themselves on grenades and the like. I've aways considered anybody willing to die for another person to be suffering from some kind of mental disorder. A kind of deficiency of the thought that renders them moronic enough to die for any cause, individual or group.

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