Moral Tribes

I have always been interested in ideas, the way we think, how our brain works and philosophies.  My Dad taught me to question things and always think for myself , even though he didn’t always like it when I questioned him!  We had some great arguments in my teenage years, which became discussions later.  Mum didn’t always like it when they became heated and always took my side lol.

I have just finished reading a book called Moral Tribes – Emotion, Reason, And The Gap Between Us and Them, by Joshua Greene, which is so relevant today.  A brilliant, very well written book, easy to read, which answered a few questions and really made me think.  having said that, I found I had to stop after each chapter to digest what I’d read.

I wanted to put a few extracts on here to remind myself as much as anything:

The Tragedy of Common Sense Morality.

Two tribes of herders one east of the forest the other west.  The Eastern herders have a rule:  each family gets the same number of sheep and each family sends a representative to the council of elders that governs the commons.  Some families bred big sheep appropriating much of the Common, the council stopped this, one family poisoned another’s sheep and were punished.

The Western herders share a common too.  The size of the flock is decided by the size of the family.  They also have a council of elders.  One family had twelve children – some complained they were taking up too much of the commons.  A different family fell ill, loosing five of their six children in a year.  Some thought it unfair to reduce their wealth because of this.

Another tribe lived in the North.  there is no common each family has their own plot of land, surrounded by fence.  Plots vary in size because some are more industrious than others.Some have bought their neighbours land.  the less prosperous may have been unlucky, or had illness despite their best efforts.  Other herders are exceptionally luck having very fertile land because they inherited them.  The council doesn’t do much, just ensuring herders keep promises and respect each others property.  There is much strife because the the differences.

To the South, a fourth tribe shares pastures and animals.  The council of elders is very busy.  They manage the herd, the pastures, jobs and monitor work.  Everything is shared equally.  This causes much strife because some work hard, whilst others are lazy.  Most work hard, some by community spirit and some because of neighbours judgements.  the families are not as prosperous as those in the North but no-one has every died through want of food or warmth.

One day a great fire burnt the forest to the ground.  rains came and eventually where the forest was became a huge green pasture.  All the tribes moved onto it claiming it as  their own and bitter fighting ensued, causing injuries, death and feuds.  To make matter worse another tribe came claiming it for themselves, saying their god had gifted it to them.  It had been prophesied in their holy book. Another tribe claimed it as their ancestral holy land and yet another arrived with rules and customs, that to other seemed ridiculous.  Black sheep must not sleep in the same enclosure as white sheep.  Women must have their earlobes covered in public. Singing on Wednesdays is strictly forbidden.  Feuding commenced……………….

Despite this, all herders have much in common.  Each tribe wants the same, but each tribe views morality in different ways.

This is the Tragedy of Common Sense Morality.









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