There’s a minor scuffle going down on Victor Reppert’s blog “Dangerous Ideas”. The story goes that violence in the world is at its lowest point in human history. This, goes the argument, means that humanity has become more moral, proving the superiority of empathy based morality over the old morality based on outside consequences visited upon you for doing the “wrong” thing (e.g. “Don’t kill or you go to Hell”).
Leaving aside that that isn’t really the religious position anyway, at least for most religious folks, I think there’s a bigger problem here. I reject the original premise. Just because we’re less violent now (if we are – this is disputed besides), has nothing to do with whether or not we’re more moral.
This was the entire point of my story “A Quadrillion Occupied Planets”. In the story, violence is at its lowest percentage rate in the history of mankind. The only catch is that for this to be the case, one planet of the quadrillion occupied planets needs to be destroyed per year. Is this society really superior to our own?
We’re going to need more than “people are less violent now” to prove the case that humans are really any more moral than they used to be.