What Makes People Good
David Brooks wrote a provocative column in today's New York Times suggesting that what makes people good is some idea of the future - whether its future children or future heaven. This is one of the theories behind the role of religion in shaping human morality. It requires people to think about the long-term fruits of their actions, either on others or on their own situation in the afterlife.
I certainly know plenty of highly moral, good people who are not religious. But in thinking about them, I do think that their morality is partially due to their notion of how their actions will affect people and matters beyond them - whether that's the environment in the long-term future or the health care needs of your grandchildren.
So I'm wondering with David Brooks: what are the possibilities of being good if your focus is entirely on the present?
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