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week 5

“The Moral Instinct” Response

“The Moral Instinct” is an essay written by Steve Pinker, an experimental psychology writer, published in The New York Times on January 13, 2008. Pinkers essay is an outline of individual’s moral intuitions as well as values and moral illusions. He summarizes illusions as a sixth sense known as the moral sense. Pinker goes on to explain that moral goodness is a factor that every person attains in order to feel like a respectable human being. He proves this by displaying a question: Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, and Norman Borlaug, who is the most admirable? Mother Theresa is initially everyone’s first choice because we are exposed to moral distortion of the senses. All three of those icons are extremely admirable for their accomplishments, but Mother Theresa is easiest to choose because she is universally viewed as a saint. Pinker introduces the moralization switch, rationalization, universal morals, and different states of moral experience through psychological states. He explains why individuals as well as groups of individuals make the decisions they do; mind-set absolutely controls thought process and decision making. The author closes the article by questioning if morality is a figment because humans act on impulse to shun harm. Evolutionary psychologists especially are intrigued to debunk individuals notable deeds as ultimately for personal advantage. Pinker proved how moral illusions not only affect our decisions but the brain as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Steve Pinkers essay because he backed up every claim he made with evidence and examples. He made the article interesting and relatable. Pinker also explained moralization and ethical vs. practical decisions through a surplus of adjectives. He used experiments to prove that moral illusions affect our decisions and brain functions. He described what parts of the brain deal with dilemma: The front lobe control emotions, the dorsolateral is the center for mental computation, and the anterior cingulate cortex deals with conflict. Pinker labeled each section of the article to direct readers in a logical fashion. He organized the article in a way that readers understand and believe his main claims to be true. He explained the variety of moral experience through themes and “primary colors of our moral sense.” Pinker successfully portrayed his main point of how “The Moral Instinct” affects the majority of individual’s lives.

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