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Beyond Bad: How obsolete morals are holding us back

Chris Paley

7 Reviews

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Philosophy

Scientific research has achieved what thousands of years of philosophising failed to do: explain why we have morals and how they work. The answers are surprising and frequently disturbing.

Morals are obsolete: a malfunctioning relic of our evolutionary past. Chris Paley argues for nothing less than a completely new way of understanding humanity.

'A groundbreaking study of how human morality itself is at the root of much of our modern woes.' - Neil Mackay, THE HERALD (Glasgow)

'Brilliantly unillusioned thinking... It could hardly be more necessary in these all-too-moralistic times' - James Marriott, THE TIMES

Morals 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: they
enabled 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'.

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Praise for Beyond Bad: How obsolete morals are holding us back

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • There is a serious challenge here to received ways of thinking for the lay public and professional moral philosophers alike.

  • Paley has a gift for 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

  • A fun and fascinating journey through the surprising world of human morality.

  • One to watch' and 'hard to ignore

  • 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"

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Chris Paley

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'.

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