Does Science Know Best?

Adam Omelianchuk has a nice review of Sam Harris’ latest book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Moral Values.

1 reply
  1. simonge not read the
    simonge not read the says:

    I have not read the book, but am familiar with Harris’ argument.

    The review seems to make two points. One about ‘dicey’ situations, and another about the ‘moral landscape’. The dicey situations apply to anybody, not just utilitarians.

    “We don’t help one’s own because it produces the best consequences. We do it because it is the right thing to do. ”

    Is it? So it is the wrong thing to do to help others further removed?!?

    The “devastating problem” in Harris’ moral landscape argument seems to completely forget the principle that was just critiqued – utilitarianism. It is of no bother that a psychopath and saints have differing or opposing needs to obtain neurobiological well-being, for the moral landscape is not a map of simpleton* moral goodness, but of utilitarian moral goodness: if there are relatively few psychopaths then the peaks will correspond to helping others. [4] is based on a misunderstanding.

    *as the simpleton moral landscape is merely a discontinuous multidimensional dot-plot where every point is either at good or bad, 1 or 0.

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