The Ethical Primate: Humans, Freedom and Morality

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9780415095303: The Ethical Primate: Humans, Freedom and Morality

In The Ethical Primate, Mary Midgley, 'one of the sharpest critical pens in the West' according to the Times Literary Supplement, addresses the fundamental question of human freedom.
Scientists and philosophers have found it difficult to understand how each human-being can be a living part of the natural world and still be free. Midgley explores their responses to this seeming paradox and argues that our evolutionary origin explains both why and how human freedom and morality have come about.

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From the Back Cover:

In her new book, Mary Midgley argues that the unrealistic isolation of mind and body in reductive scientific ideologies still causes painful confusion. Such ideologies present crude pictures which are not good science, since they ignore the manifest importance of the higher human faculties. Neither inside nor outside these crude pictures is there room for any realistic notion of the self. Why should these theories insist on only one kind of answer? There is not just one single legitimate explanation. There are as many answers as there are viewpoints from which questions arise - subjective and objective, practical as well as theoretical. Human morality arises out of human freedom: we are uniquely free beings in that we are aware of our conflicts of motive. But those conflicts and our capacity to resolve them are part of our natural inheritance. Although our selves are in many ways divided, we share the difficult project of wholeness with other organisms. What matters for our freedom is the recognition of our genuine agency, our slight but nevertheless real power to grasp and arbitrate our inner conflicts.

About the Author:

Mary Midgley, former Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle, is the author of Science as Salvation, Wisdom, Information and Wonder and Wickedness, all published by Routledge.

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