Summary/Response of “The Moral Instinct” by Steven Pinker
Pinker who writes in the New York Times is a professor of psychology at the University of Harvard. He is also credited with having written the book `the language instinct. Our view of morality is something that can be regulated. This means that when in a certain state we might deem an act immoral at one time and the next time we feel its right. Pinker adds that the view of morality is that the guidelines are the same throughout the globe. It is believed that any one who does anything unacceptable is liable for punishment. Those who acclaim to the moral view feel that it’s justified to punish those who go against the spirit of morality. Thus morality is subjective. Most people after declaring that an act is immoral they go ahead to look for the justifications for their stand point. He argues that, most people instead of starting with the basis of the problem, they start by concluding that someone is immoral. After making their conclusion is when they start thinking of what caused the person to err. He adds that, most people are always divided, as to what amounts to a greater violation of the moral standards. All this acts are morally wrong but they always look for justification to their actions. Pinker suggests that, the concept of morality is inborn i.e. It’s is controlled by genes. He also argues that morality also grows starts from the time one is born .The way a child behaves when young ,predicts his/her morality in future. According to Pinker; the five codes that characterize the morality include, being fair, what harm, the group one belongs to, the power and how uncontaminated one is. He is also of the view that this sense of morality cuts across all organisms including animals. He believes that all organisms as much as they try to fulfill their desires they are also driven by the urge of not harming the people around them. He is also of the opinion that as much as morality is universal there are differences in the way morality is interpreted in the different parts of the globe.
From the above discussion morality is such a complex thing that needs deeper and critical understanding. morality is more than what we can inherit from our parents. The implications of morality are diverse and vary considerably from one culture to another. This is despite the fact that they are considered to be universal. For us to realize and come to common ground about what morality is and its implications we must be able to understand the actions of other people around us. We have to consider how fair our judgment will be to the other person for us to coexist well in the community. As much as our psychological endowment is good for us to make sound decisions in life, they can sometimes be a very big deterrent to our objective judgment. If we are not careful with our interpretation of morality, we might end up using our human bias in making judgments. We might at times be found in big hurdle as regards what forms of misbehavior that do not necessarily fit the definitions of morality. Morality is also subject to abuse as most of the people will always claim to be on the right side of morality thus those behaving in a manner that is different may be considered being immoral. Because of the changing times and varying definition of morality, many people may start abusing morality as it is subjective. There are so many vices that have cropped up in the recent times that mostly contravene the expectations of morality. As much as morality is to be upheld there are some exceptions that must be held. This is for example in the medical field, initially extracting of blood from human beings was considered immoral and ungodly. However, with the advances in medicine, blood transfusion has become the order of the day for healing patients. In conclusion then, as much as morality should be upheld, the circumstances surrounding the violation should also be considered. This will ensure that people are not punished for the good they performed.
Pinker S. (2008) .The Moral Instinct. New York: Times.com