Daily Archives: November 14, 2013

** Moral Tribes by Joshua Greene


Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them explains how morality can be both “automatic”, that is, emotions-based, and also “manual”, rational and deliberate, and how cultural differences can obscure the application of what some would like to be universal morality. The author does not shy from controversy, taking as one of his example the thorny issue of abortion and showing how both pro-choice and pro-life factions distort facts to make their case.

My favorite aspect of the book is the reminder to step away from automatic morality whenever there is an inner or public conflict about a particular issue and to engage in utilitarian reasoning, despite its dreadful name: what decision would make for a better outcome for most? It certainly would help if opposing factions were able to do that more often, right? Only near the end of the book does the author discloses his real aim, which is to have a public disagreement with the author of The Righteous Mind, but his arguments seemed picayune to me and worse, seem to obscure his clear argument. I also felt the book suffered from some unnecessary lengthy discussions, but still enjoyed the overall thesis.

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Filed under Non fiction