Humans excel at solving problems. (Pinker actually states that the mind has evolved simply to outsmart the competition by being able to solve problems. Humans living and working in space is possibly one of the best examples of how successful we have become in problem solving, but examples can be found in all fields of endeavour, from discovering how genes work, to creating an emotional demand for a new product.
Problems come in two flavours, tangible and abstract. Or, if you like, practical and metaphysical. The difference between these two types can be illustrated by discussing the kinds of problems that interest mathematicians and scientists. Chapter Two provides some examples, then explores how we all typically go about solving everyday problems. This approach will show why moral problems are often difficult to solve, what humans have done to reduce this difficulty, and prepares the way for later suggesting what might be done to facilitate moral problem solving in the future.
- Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997), 21.