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Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
#1
Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_scie...right.html

EvF
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#2
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
Science can only inform moral thinking. It can verify or falsify the rationale for a certain moral position but it cannot validate the truth of a moral goal.
"I'm like a rabbit suddenly trapped, in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap" - Tim Minchin in "Storm"
Christianity is perfect bullshit, christians are not - Purple Rabbit, honouring CS Lewis
Faith is illogical - fr0d0
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#3
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
I guess it depends how "moral" is defined.

If moral, or IOW "what we should value" is defined as that which causes less suffering and better well-being for conscious beings in the long run, that's a factual matter and can be dealt with.

Science operationally defines a lot of things, but it doesn't stop science being done in other cases, so why in morality? We have to appeal to the values of reason, logic and empiricism in order to do science. Ultimately science is only done because we value it in the first place anyway.

"Why not make morality a subject in science?" I guess is what Harris is saying. The fact we can't all agree on exactly what "healthy" is doesn't mean there aren't obvious truths about health.... why can't morality be treated in the same way?

It seems that Harris is supporting a form of Moral Naturalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_naturalism

EvF
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#4
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
(July 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm)EvidenceVsFaith Wrote: I guess it depends how "moral" is defined.

If moral, or IOW "what we should value" is defined as that which causes less suffering and better well-being for conscious beings in the long run, that's a factual matter and can be dealt with.
Yeah, but that is a choice for a specific moral goal.


(July 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm)EvidenceVsFaith Wrote: "Why not make morality a subject in science?" I guess is what Harris is saying. The fact we can't all agree on exactly what "healthy" is doesn't mean there aren't obvious truths about it.... why can't morality be treated in the same way?
It can be treated that way to inform moral rationale. It cannot generate moral values.
"I'm like a rabbit suddenly trapped, in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap" - Tim Minchin in "Storm"
Christianity is perfect bullshit, christians are not - Purple Rabbit, honouring CS Lewis
Faith is illogical - fr0d0
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#5
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
PR Wrote:Yeah, but that is a choice for a specific moral goal.

But if moral is defined as "better well being" and "less suffering" then there are factual matters about that.

So when you say it's a choice for a specific "moral" goal, what do you mean by "moral" goal if you don't define moral as above?

Harris also argues that science has to appeal to specific values or "goals" in order for science to be done too.

Is "right" and "wrong" in the natural world? The beliefs people have about morality are in them and they are part of the natural world. So how are there concerns or values not a matter of the natural world and not a matter of fact about what is "good" and "bad" for them and others?

EvF
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#6
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
(July 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm)EvidenceVsFaith Wrote:
PR Wrote:Yeah, but that is a choice for a specific moral goal.

But if moral is defined as "better well being" and "less suffering" then there are factual matters about that.

So when you say it's a choice for a specific "moral" goal, what do you mean by "moral" goal if you don't define moral as above?
Moral is opinion on how one should act. Because it is opinion, it cannot be transformed to fact. There is a choice involved for a goal like "less suffering", but a Macchiavellistic moral goal for instance wouldn't include "less suffering" for other people. There is not a way to objectively settle the dispute between the Macchiavellistic goal and the "less suffering" goal. There is no intrinsic truth to either of them.
"I'm like a rabbit suddenly trapped, in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap" - Tim Minchin in "Storm"
Christianity is perfect bullshit, christians are not - Purple Rabbit, honouring CS Lewis
Faith is illogical - fr0d0
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#7
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
I think Harris is full of shit, i disagree with him about a hell of a lot of things.
.
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#8
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
(July 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm)EvidenceVsFaith Wrote:
PR Wrote:Yeah, but that is a choice for a specific moral goal.

But if moral is defined as "better well being" and "less suffering" then there are factual matters about that.

So when you say it's a choice for a specific "moral" goal, what do you mean by "moral" goal if you don't define moral as above?

Harris also argues that science has to appeal to specific values or "goals" in order for science to be done too.

Is "right" and "wrong" in the natural world? The beliefs people have about morality are in them and they are part of the natural world. So how are there concerns or values not a matter of the natural world and not a matter of fact about what is "good" and "bad" for them and others?

EvF

I can see what you're both saying. What Purple Rabbit is saying is that the idea that pain is bad and pleasure good is not scientifically verifiable. Once we have accepted this premise, however, EvF is right that we can use empirical facts to determine what is best to do.
'We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.' H.L. Mencken

'False religion' is the ultimate tautology.

'It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.' Mark Twain

'I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.' Abraham Lincoln
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#9
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
Yes, but accepting that premise just to make the rest of the argument valid would be idiotic, no better than theistic reasoning.
.
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#10
RE: Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
I have a simple framework for morality.

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." - Thucydides
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