Michael Walzer: Has scientific progress changed your understanding of morality?

Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.

  • Transcript


Michael Walzer: I don’t think so, no, because when I read the moral arguments that went on in ancient Greece or in ancient Israel, they don’t seem all that different. I’m not sure this is a realm in which progress--there is certainly nothing like linear progress from ancient times to modern times on any moral issue. There are ups and downs. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we get it wrong for a long time, and then suddenly someone comes along and gets it right. I don’t, I know there are the neurologists who are trying to locate morality in the brain but--and I know nothing about the geography of the brain--but I am doubtful that the arguments are going to change. Recorded on: 2/27/08