Reason and Science Make Us Moral: Michael Shermer on The Moral Arc

Skeptic magazine editor discusses his new book.


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"You can't just say, 'This is the way it is, therefore it ought to be that way.' You've got to have good reasons," says Michael Shermer, referencing the common "is-ought fallacy" most famously explained by David Hume. "Well, I claim that we do have good reasons: Democracies are better than autocracies. Free markets are better than tyrannical, top-down economic systems. There are certain things we know work. You can measure it!"

Shermer is the longtime editor of Skeptic magazine, a visiting professor at Chapman University, and author of the new book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Towards Truth, Justice, and Freedom, in which he argues that humanity has become measurably more moral over time and that this is a direct outgrowth of the rise of Enlightenment ideals of reason, empricism, and the rejection of blind faith and tradition. 

Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller interviewed Shermer and explored such topics as the meaning of morality, the relationship between morality and markets, the possibility (or impossibility) of consensus around moral truths, and the biggest obstacles impeding further moral progress.

Approximately 20 minutes. Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Justin Monticello and Paul Detrick. Edited by Weissmueller. Music by Chris Zabriskie.

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