What Drives Moral Progress?

What would happen if the ancient Greek philosopher Plato partook in contemporary dialogues about the types of moral questions that he first posed? He might begin by challenging humanity's increasing reliance on evolutionary psychology to understand our moral progress.

DAVOS – What would happen if the ancient Greek philosopher Plato partook in contemporary dialogues about the types of questions that he first posed, and that continue to vex us? In my view, he would have many new questions – including about our increasingly psychological approach to philosophical discussion.

Plato would probably head to a leading global technology hub: Google’s California headquarters. There, he might fall into a discussion with a software engineer about, say, whether ethical questions can be answered through crowdsourcing. He would probably love the idea of the information cloud – so abstract, so Platonic – and find Google to be the ideal tool to catch up on the vast scientific and technical advances of the last couple of millennia.

But Plato would probably be most amazed by the world’s moral progress. After all, he believed that being a “philosopher” meant assuming the responsibilities of moral reformer. Yet, though morality was always at the center of his thinking, many of the moral truths that we now take for granted never occurred to him.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/aLN48kR;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.