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Chapter 12: Protopia: The Future of Moral Progress

Chapter 12: Protopia: The Future of Moral Progress 2017-05-18T16:55:56+00:00

AUDIO: “Our Memories” from Film Soundtracks 2 by De Wolfe Music Library. Composer: Paul Lawler

I’m an optimist. I agree with Charles Darwin that reason tells us that we ought to extend our moral sympathies to people of all nations and races. One of the aims of this book, in fact, is to argue that it is reason and science more than any other force that have helped break through the artificial barriers to extending our sympathies to all peoples.

In this final chapter I want to project the moral arc out as far as I can imagine. Predictions about the future, as Yogi Berra quipped, are the hardest type to make, and I take seriously the admonition of one of the greatest scientific prophets of our age, Arthur C. Clarke (who, among other things, predicted communications satellites): “If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run—and often in the short one—the most daring prophecies seem laughingly conservative.” Nevertheless, if we are to take seriously the goal of furthering the moral future of humanity, we must look beyond what we can see on the immediate horizon. After all, as Robert Browning suggested, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?