The Moral Arc How Science Makes Us Better People

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1/20/2015
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

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Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral

From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy.

In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.

Author Biography

Michael Shermer is the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, The Believing Brain, and eight other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Bending the Moral Arc    1

Part I: The Moral Arc Explained

 1.  Toward a Science of Morality    11

 2.  The Morality of War, Terror, and Deterrence     55

 3.  Why Science and Reason Are the Drivers of Moral Progress    103

 4.  Why Religion Is Not the Source of Moral Progress    149

Part II: The Moral Arc Applied

 5.  Slavery and a Moral Science of Freedom    189

 6.  A Moral Science of Women’s Rights    213

 7.  A Moral Science of Gay Rights    240

 8.  A Moral Science of Animal Rights    259

Part III: The Moral Arc Amended

 9.  Moral Regress and Pathways to Evil    297

10.  Moral Freedom and Responsibility    333

11.  Moral Justice: Retribution and Restoration    355

12.  Protopia: The Future of Moral Progress    397

Notes    441
Bibliography    497

Ac­know­ledg­ments    527

Index    531

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