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Friday, February 15, 2019

‘Science and the Good’ Review: The Anatomy of Morality

Julian Baggini
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published Jan. 15, 2019

Here is the conclusion of this book review:

But the authors’ core idea here—that if morality lacks some ultimate, non-natural basis, then it isn’t really morality—is a hangover from a Christian-Platonic way of thinking. For evidence that there is another way, look to China. There the ethics of an entire civilization has for millennia been based on a Confucian philosophy that concerns itself with how we live good lives and create an orderly society in the here and now—without pointing to a metaphysical realm for justification. Messrs. Hunter and Nedelisky rule out the possibility that what we understand as morality in the West might be revisable without our losing what is most essential about it.

They are right, however, to warn that such a deflated morality—concerned primarily with the pragmatics of social harmony—risks becoming a “sophisticated intellectualization for our pervasive regime of instrumental rationality.” Their important and timely book reminds us that ethics at its best challenges rather than justifies the status quo, which is why a purely descriptive science of ethics is never enough.

The info is here.