Michael Shermer is writing a book on science and morality, and he’s written a preview or summary or overture at Massimo Pigliucci’s blog.
It looks as if he’s just doing Sam Harris’s project all over again, which seems superfluous, but who knows. A sample from the preview or summary:
Given that moral principles must be founded on something natural instead of supernatural, and that science is the best tool we have devised for understanding the natural world, applying evolutionary theory to not only the origins of morality but to its ultimate foundation as well, it seems to me that the individual is a reasonable starting point because, (1) the individual is the primary target of natural selection in evolution, and (2) it is the individual who is most effected by moral and immoral acts. Thus:The survival and flourishing of the individual is the foundation for establishing values and morals, and so determining the conditions by which humans best survive and flourish ought to be the goal of a science of morality.Here we find a smooth transition from the way nature is (the individual struggling to survive and flourish in an evolutionary context) to the way it ought to be (given a choice, it is more moral to act in a way that enhances the survival and flourishing of other individuals).
Note to my readers: What I am outlining here is the basis for my next book, The
Moral Arc of Science, which I am researching and writing now, so I ask you to
post your critiques here or email me your constructive criticisms ([email protected]).
My role model is Charles Darwin, who solicited criticisms of his theory of
evolution and included them in a chapter entitled “Difficulties on Theory” in
On the Origin of Species. Of course, if you agree with me, and/or think
of additional examples in support of my theory, then I would appreciate hearing
those as well!