Innate Morality

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Questions of morality are abstract and extremely touchy. They are subject to enduring debates regarding its origins, nature, and limits, with no possibility of a consensus. Although the theories on morality often pursue diverse angles, among the most interesting ones that have come up in recent times revolve around the question whether human beings are born with an innate moral sense. Some scholars hold the view that humans are born with an inherent sense of morality while others believe the opposite that humans are not born with an innate moral sense holds true. By using Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate and Paul Bloom’s Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, this essay will analyze the opinions advanced by both sides of the theories. In…show more content…
According to him, humans are born with an inherent moral sense, as evidenced by his statement: “This book is based on the estimation that ... a universal complex human nature ... I think we have reason to believe that the mind is equipped with a battery of emotions, drives, and faculties for reasoning and communicating and that they have a common logic across cultures, are difficult to erase or redesign from scratch, were shaped by natural selection acting over the course of human evolution, and owe some of their basic design (and some of their variation) to information in the genome (Pinker, 74).” The point of the previous statement, as Colin McGinn, in his review of The Blank Slate written for the Washington Post, is that the key overall attributes that human beings possess primarily derive from genetics. Thus, although environmental factors play a role, their influence usually contributes to the development of our already highly structured and specialized innate abilities and talents. Thus, McGinn acknowledges that a person’s genes play a determinative role in their behavioral outcomes. This essentially means that ingrained variations between individuals are also innate (McGinn, “All in Our Heads”). Additionally, by appealing to the uniformity of behaviors across cultures and the…show more content…
Thus, following this theory, questions of morality can only be acquired through social learning. However, in Pinker’s opposition to this idea, he insists that together with the Noble Savage and Ghost in the Machine theories, the Blank Slate theory expresses a denial of human nature that is inspired by political considerations drawn from fears of inequality, imperfectability, determinism, and nihilism (Pinker, 137-194). Therefore, his biological and genetic-based assumptions have a connection to politics by challenging the typical liberal notions of equality and social justice. It is essential to note, however, that Pinker does not attribute human behavioral outcomes to genetics exclusively. He points out early in the book's preface that it will not be one of those that "says everything is genetic" (Pinker, viii). Additionally, in his elaborate discussion on politics, he asserts that political attitudes, whether liberal or conservative, are heritable not as a result of their direct synthesis from DNA but because they are naturally ascribed to people with varying temperaments. Therefore, rather than genetics being the underlying determinant of human behavioral outcomes, it simply creates a predisposition to behave in a certain way. Whether a person ultimately conducts themselves in that manner or not depends on
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