A couple of weeks ago I had a most enjoyable conversation at Spui25 with Michael Shermer on his new book "The Moral Arc". According to Michael, science increased our moral sensibility. He argued that experimental methods and analytical reasoning of science created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights, civil liberties, equal justice and prosperity. In my reply I argued that he had forgotten the immense influence of the humanities in explaining the increase of moral justice -- in particular the insights from sceptical philologists like Lorenzo Valla, Desiderius Erasmus and Joseph Scaliger whom I had discussed in depth in my own book on the world-wide impact of the humanities. Somewhat to my surprise, Michael admitted that he had indeed overlooked people like Valla and others, and he agreed with my argument that both humanities and science increased moral justice. I was impressed and delighted with Michael's reaction, so here's the full text of my reply to his book:
"Thanks for this mind-provoking book. I agree with Michael that on the long run the arc of the moral sphere bends towards justice. It’s a robust, empirical tendency, impossible to deny.