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The utilitarians and their trolley problem

Throne and Altar

At the New Republic, Thomas Nagel has a review of Joshua Greene’s Moral Tribes, and I recommend it to any of my readers who haven’t already read it.  Nagel’s main point is given by his title “You can’t learn about morality from brain scans“, and I certainly agree with that.  Like most people who think psychology and neuroscience can be used to uncover the basis of sound ethics, Greene is a utilitarian.  To make his case, he must explain why, since both utilitarian and non-utilitarian moral intuitions are evolved features of the brain, one is to be regarded as more legitimate than the other.  Greene is better than many moral psychologists in that he at least realizes that this is a problem.  One argument he makes is that utilitarian intuitions are more universal and more likely to lead to inter-cultural agreement.  The funny thing at least in the…

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