Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Skinny on Right and Wrong

Add to Professor Skinny's list of similarities (or lack of dissimilarities) between humans and animals the very nature of right and wrong itself. Philosophers have long regarded moral thinking as the exclusive province of human thought. But Marc Hauser, a Harvard biologist, proposes in his new book "Moral Minds" that people are hardwired with a moral grammar that dictates the choices they make in everyday ethical situations. Hauser argues that people are not conscious of this process, and are able to convince themselves that they have arrived at their decision on their own reasoning. Hauser's is a theory for discussion, but he makes the convicing point that atheists and people of many different religious faiths reach the same moral judgments about a host of different matters. This may be only a tentative conclusion, but it is surely bound to land on Professor Skinny's list and make our human distinctivess just a little bit skimpier than ever before.