The Moral Arc
We are living in the most moral period of our species’ history. Science and reason have profoundly changed our modern work and bend the arc in a more moral direction.
Ever since the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment thinkers consciously applied the methods of science to solve social and moral problems. The experimental methods and analytical reasoning of science created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights and civil liberties, equal justice under the law, open political and economic borders, free minds and free markets, and prosperity. More people in more places have greater rights, freedoms, liberties, literacy, education, and prosperity—the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed. In this provocative and compelling talk—that includes brief histories of freedom rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, along with considerations of the nature of evil and moral regress—Shermer explains 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.
Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to Time.com, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. The Moral Arc is the latest of his 12 books. He is also the author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. His previous book was The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. He also wrote Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of The Science of Good and Evil and of Why People Believe Weird Things. Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine He has appeared on shows like The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!). Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series Exploring the Unknown.