Richard Dawkins on Steven Pinker’s new book, “Rationality”

Richard Dawkins in Skeptical Inquirer:

Just another run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road Pinker volume. Which is another way of saying it’s bloody marvelous. What a consummate intellectual this man is! Every one of his books is a bracing river of fluent readability to delight the non-specialist. Yet each one simultaneously earns its place as a major professional contribution to its own field. Grasp the fact that the field is different for each book, and you have the measure of this scholar. Steven Pinker’s professional expertise encompasses linguistics, psychology, history, philosophy, evolutionary theory—the list goes on. There’s even a book on how to write good English—for, sure enough, he is a master of that too.

And now Rationality. In the final chapter of this book, Pinker raises the serious, even baffling, question of how it could ever have been necessary to mount an argument against slavery, against drawing and quartering, against breaking on the wheel, or against burning at the stake. Isn’t the case against slavery obvious? Nevertheless, it had to be made. One could ask the same question about the justification of rationality. How is it possible that rationality needs an advocate? Isn’t it obvious?

More here.