It is true that Paley’s hectic bravado and loudly advertised contempt for morality sometimes makes the experience of reading Beyond Bad feel like you’re being heckled by a cross between Scrappy-Doo and Friedrich Nietzsche. And, yes, some sceptically minded readers will come over queasy at the array of suspiciously neat social experiments and tendentious evolutionary psychological speculation. Nevertheless, the book is distinguished by its author’s brilliantly unillusioned thinking. For me his basic argument is irrefutable. It could hardly be more necessary in these all-too-moralistic times.