Philosopher Jonathan Glover on the best and worst of humanity

I have always thought that we are too obsessed with what makes us bad and not interested enough as to what makes us good. The news is full of violence and atrocity which gives the impression that humanity is forever at its own throat. But, in the same way that the news rarely reports on planes that land safely, only the ones that crash, the media is generally more interested in reporting we are violent and not when we are peaceful. We think that violence is somehow natural whereas morality is not. This is a mistake.

In this interview, Glover discusses the role of moral identity in restraining our worst instincts: what sort of person do I want to be? I don’t want to be the sort of person that tortures and murders. This identity keeps our destructive impulses in check. For religious believers, it’s God that implants moral identity. For secular people, like me, then it’s evolved feelings of empathy and restraint. Morality is a natural phenomenon. My feet are firmly placed in the secular camp. Glover himself takes no position on the source of our moral identity but whatever its source is, it certainly exists.

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