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Mere Morality

Here is an excerpt from Dan Barker’s new book, Mere Morality. Dan donates all the royalties from copies purchased via FFRF. Go to

Mere Morality is a model, a framework that can help us visualize what we are doing when we make moral choices.

Have you ever seen one of those cartoons where the character is trying to make a decision with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? We often find ourselves torn between what we want to do and what we feel we should do. Since there are no devils or angels, I suggest we replace the image of those silly supernatural symbols of “good and evil” with something else. Instead of cartoon characters competing for your attention, picture instinct on one shoulder, law on the other, and reason in the middle. These make up your three “moral minds,” and none of them, by itself, tells you what to do. None of them is good or bad. Actions are what we judge to be good or bad, and your moral minds are guides that