Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Chapter 6 holds a Dawkins' gem: "'collateral damage', to use the charmingly Rumsfeldian phrase" (225). I laughed out loud, in public, when I read this. I know Rumsfeld and others from the current administration are easy targets, but to use "charmingly Rumsfeldian phrase" when referencing "collateral damage" is close to the most witty, snide remark I've heard. I think it particularly well-placed in a chapter that discusses the misplaced perception that religion holds a monopoly on morality.
I liked Dawkins' discussion in this chapter. Particularly, I enjoyed his references to Marc Hauser's book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong
. First, a question: Has anybody read it, and, if so, would you recommend it? I absolutely recognized, in myself, the Kant principle, which Hauser through Dawkins illuminates, "that a rational being should never be used as merely an unconsenting means to an end, even the end of benefiting others" (224). (Is unconsenting a word?) I think it an interesting principle that seems to go a bit beyond the Golden Rule. A clarification with regard to the principle (perhaps I should do some Kant reading): is "rational being" restricted or qualified in any way? I go back to the old example: torturing one person in order to save a random number of victims. If the person to be tortured is the culprit that put the other victims in danger, does that then make her exempt from Kant's principle? Otherwise, torturing her would be "an unconsenting means to an end." I think my argument for how I would want the situation to proceed would go against what I innately feel. And what I innately feel would go against Kant's principle, if it applies in such a situation.