Monday, April 11, 2011

CHAPTER 5: Moral principles are passed on from generation to generation through education and example. 

As mentioned before, evolutionary psychologists claim that the ability to learn morals, like the ability to learn language, is hardwired into our brains through an evolutionary process. 

But how do we learn what is right or wrong, moral or immoral?  Is it possible to be taught an immoral morality?

Consider the problem of getting from Point A to Point B?  If I follow your directions I will discover if they are right or wrong.  In a similar way, if we assume that the purpose of morality is to improve the quality of our lives (Point B), then we must discover from trial and error what is right and what is wrong (experience).  Or we can rely on a trustworthy source.  Hopefully we won't keep making the same mistakes over and over again. 

This process of discovery is exemplified by English common law.  Let's now turn our attention to the legal framework which codifies a societies standard definitions of right and wrong.  

Read what Bastiat has to say about the LAW.  This is relatively long but definitely worth your time.

Review Questions:  What is the difference between positive law and natural law?  Can a law be immoral?  If so, give an example.  What happens if a society that has lots of immoral laws?  Is theft immoral?  How does taxation differ from theft?  Does public education do a good job of contrasting the opposing paradigms of natural rights vs. the social contract theory?

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