on 2 January 2013
This book shows how men act moral as well as immoral. It is shown morality is not absolute but provisional.
The approach of this book is very systematic, which makes it easily readable.
The different possible foundations of morality are listed: the ask God principle, the ask first principle, the happiness principle, the liberty principle, and the moderation principle. In a large number of examples it is shown how usefull this approach is, and the different principles for the foundation of morality do not result in widely different outcomes.
I found this book more practical than the book of Stefaan Molyneux: "Universally Preferably Behaviour (UPB)", which appreared recently, and which draw a lot of attention.
on 22 November 2010
In Nietzsche's masterpiece 'On the Genealogy of Morals' he simply takes a good step back from The Argument and holds up a clean mirror on which he reflects the origins of opinion, thought and moral judgements. By removing himself from the emotions attached to topics such a theology, morality and ethics Shermer, somewhat like Nietzsche attempts to frame these often 'hot' topics in something altogether more transparent than is usually the case. As a rationalist and a logicist I invariably find the unwelcome addition of emotion and emotionally driven cognition to any serious argument or discourse to be utterly unnecessary, very distracting and wholly unwelcome.
In 'The Science of Good and Evil', Dr. Shermer does his utmost to use Nietzsche's mirror and for the most part does an admirable job in examining the source of opinion, conjecture and belief. Although the matter dealt with in this treaties is not really new ('Morals' was written in 1887). It is probably time the debate was dusted off and reopened - especially with the current state of discourse which seems to be based on 'he who shouts loudest wins' - never mind a clear and precise thesis...
Whilst not everyone will agree with either Dr.Shermer's presentation of the facts nor his take on the issues to hand I think anyone with a keen mind and an enquiring nature will appreciate that at the very least his is adding a dose of objectivity and clarity to the debate; his is wiping his sleeve over the bathroom mirror of discourse and debate, which, ever since Nixon, has been steamed up. Steam that has risen, not from hot water of fervoured argument, rather, from that which has spewn from the mouths of politicians, lobbyists and the laughably objective media ever since the as-kicking in Vietnam; to create an environment a la 'Swift boater', where 'yes' has become 'probably in June' and 'no' has become 'a small Mexican dog'.