Beyond Bad

How Obsolete Morals are Holding us Back

Beyond Bad
Chris Paley
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' Brilliantly unillusioned thinking. . . It could hardly be more necessary in these all-too-moralistic times' - James Marriott, THE TIMESMorals have held empires together, kept soldiers marching under fire, fed the hungry, passed laws, built walls, welcomed immigrants, destroyed careers and governed our sex lives. But what if morality' s all meaningless rubbish, a malfunctioning relic of our evolutionary past? This is the provocative argument that Chris Paley makes. This isn' t an attack on one set of moral codes or one way of thinking about ethics: it' s a call for abolishing the whole caboodle. He uses evolutionary psychology to show how and why morality emerged: theyenabled our forebears to survive and prosper in tribal groups. Today, our morals constrain us, bias us, and push us in the wrong direction. The biggest challenges our species faces, whether global warming, nuclear proliferation or the rise of the robots, are pan-human. These challenges are beyond what our moral minds were designed to cope with. You can' t build smartphones with stone-age axes, and you can' t solve modern humanity' s problems with tools that are designed to create primitive, competitive groups. From Chris Paley, author of the ' extraordinary' , ' startling' and ' thought-provoking' Unthink, comes Beyond Bad, which shows morals hinder us from achieving what we want to achieve. Beyond Bad is the book that ' does for morals what Dawkins did for God' .
' I love the prose. I wish more scientists wrote like this. . . Paley thinks that in the modern world our moral certainty is not only misguided but dangerous. After reading his book, so do I. . . The book is distinguished by its author' s brilliantly unillusioned thinking. For me his basic argument is irrefutable. It could hardly be more necessary in these all-too-moralistic times. ' * James Marriott, THE TIMES * Hold your breath! If you believe that moral values are the foundations of humanity, you are fundamentally wrong. In his exciting and exceptionally well written book, Chris Paley will convince you about the many downsides of morality. It is a challenge, but highly recommended. -- Fritz Strack, Professor Emeritus, University of Wurzburg Truly thought-provoking. Paley puts forth an astonishingly original hypothesis and defends it eloquently, marshalling cutting-edge science to argue against the very idea of morality. -- Kurt Gray, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill There is a serious challenge here to received ways of thinking for the lay public and professional moral philosophers alike. -- John P Burgess, John N Woodhull Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University Paley has a giftfor distilling and illuminating the implications of science reminiscent of Richard Dawkins. Many of the insights he describes will startle but, in this era of political polarisation, we all need to explore how our ethical minds work -- Paul Bingham, Associate Professor, Stony Brook University, and co-author of Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe A fun and fascinating journey through the surprising world of human morality. -- Will Storr, author of The Science of Storytelling One to watch' and ' hard to ignore -- The Bookseller Of Unthink: ' an extraordinary thought-provoking book. . . quite startling. It is a book well worth reading. . . I look forward to reading his next one on "Freedom and Moral Choices" -- Cardinal Cormac Murphy O' Connor
Dr Chris Paley has an MSci and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Unthink: Why You Don' t Think The Way You Think You Think. In Chris' s view the greatest scientific leap of his generation is throwing off common-sense assumptions about the mind: what it' s doing for us, why we have morals, and how we make decisions. This leaves scientists free to overturn millennia of fruitless theorising and truly explain why we are what we are and think what we think. He has a wife, three blameless daughters and an imaginary, but mischievous, cat. Chris might believe himself to be thoroughly amoral, but his wife thinks him ' a good man' .