Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why are we moral?

Here is an excellent interview with Marc Hauser at the Point of Inquiry podcast. The questions at the beginning and at the end of the interview center around the issues of science, religion, and morality. Yes - morality can be explained without the supernatural and Hauser does a good job of separating science from religion on these matters. But most of the interview is about morality research, in particular, Hauser's work in the area. Here is a summary of the topics discussed:
In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Marc Hauser expounds his theory that morality has biological origins while challenging the common view that morality comes from God. He compares the human capacity for morality with Noam Chomsky's notion of a universal grammar, arguing that there is a "morality module" in the brain. He explains how his theory accounts for differences in morality across cultures, and discusses how morality could have evolved and what genetic benefit it might have afforded. He also explores the implications of his theory for the legal system, and for cultural institutions like religion and the family.