In Dr. Michael Shermer’s latest book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, he claims that we are living in the most moral period of our species’ history. It is a book about moral progress that demonstrates through extensive data and heroic stories that the arc of the moral universe bends toward truth, justice, and freedom. Of the many factors that have come together over the centuries to bend the arc in a more moral direction, science and reason are foremost. The Scientific Revolution led by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton was so world-changing that thinkers in other fields consciously aimed at revolutionizing the social, political, and economic worlds using the same methods of science. This led to the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, which in turn created the modern secular world of liberal democracies, civil rights and civil liberties, equal justice under the law, open political and economic borders, and the expansion of the moral sphere to include more people—and now even animals—as worthy of moral consideration. Epic in scope, The Moral Arc is the Cosmos of human history.

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Chapter previews for The Moral Arc

Each chapter preview features a unique piece of music from The Moral Arc audiobook.

Prologue: Bending the Moral Arc

Part I: The Moral Arc Explained

Chapter 1. Towards a Science of Morality
Chapter 2. The Morality of War, Terror, and Deterrence
Chapter 3. Why Reason Is the Primary Source of Moral Progress
Chapter 4. Why Religion Is Not the Source of Moral Progress

Part II: The Moral Arc Applied

Chapter 5. A Moral Science of Freedom Rights
Chapter 6. A Moral Science of Women’s Rights
Chapter 7. A Moral Science of Gay Rights
Chapter 8. A Moral Science of Animal Rights

Part III: The Moral Arc Amended

Chapter 9. Moral Regress and Pathways to Evil
Chapter 10. Moral Freedom and Responsibility
Chapter 11. Moral Justice: Retribution and Restoration
Chapter 12. Protopia: The Future of Moral Progress


The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom (book cover)


There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress.
—J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1949