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The Moral Landscape: How Science Can…
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The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Sam Harris

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1,5573710,057 (3.78)13
Bestselling author Sam Harris dismantles the most common justification for religious faith--that a moral system cannot be based on science.
Member:dcargnello
Title:The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
Authors:Sam Harris
Info:Free Press (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Reading Sam Harris is an intellectual treat, a feast for the brain cells, an oasis amidst today's current 'sea of twaddle'. His arguments sizzle and his support for them is full, complete and unemotional. He is the absolute best author to return to after reading a bunch of escapist things, even good escapism so that the intellect can be re-calibrated, often with the bar raised from its previous place.
This book argues for a science-based approach to determining morality. It is an interesting argument, clearly well thought out, strong and enticing, but I still have reservations.
While, as Harris argues, a science of morality may be possible, human beings do things that are totally irrational, often very impulsive and frequently even in violation of their own best interests. Harris realizes this, but I believe that there are practical models for morality that can be more fully and regularly applied by people in their normal decision making.
Using Harris' technique, consider this: Captain Kirk (Star Trek) makes a decision. Mr. Spock gives him one of the "Spook is puzzled looks" and says, "Is that logical, Captain?" A science of morality is Dr. Spock, Captain Kirk is the rest of us.
Still, I like the thinking and arguments. It was a pleasure to get back to reading Harris after such a long time since my last visit to his work.
Still, however, for a clear presentation on human morality, I recommend the incomparable six stages of morality developed by Lawrence Kohlberg as well as the clear reasoning and concrete examples of Jacob Bronowski. Kohlberg's book is difficult to obtain and expensive, but a search of him and a glance at the Wikipedia article will give people the idea of the power of his work. Bronowski's book, The Ascent of Man" became a PBS series a few years ago.
( )
  PaulLoesch | Apr 2, 2022 |
Fantastic read. Sam Harris performed an exorcism of my previously held beliefs of ought vs is. Clear, succinct and precise. ( )
  SeekingApatheia | Apr 13, 2021 |
Doesn't deliver on the promise on the cover. All that it manages to do is put forward a bit very controversial claim that morality doesn't require religion. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Pros: Sharp, biting prose.
Cons: Does not actually describe how science can determine human values. ( )
  kaitlynn_g | Dec 13, 2020 |
Reading Sam Harris is an intellectual treat, a feast for the brain cells, an oasis amidst today's current 'sea of twaddle'. His arguments sizzle and his support for them is full, complete and unemotional. He is the absolute best author to return to after reading a bunch of escapist things, even good escapism so that the intellect can be re-calibrated, often with the bar raised from its previous place.
This book argues for a science-based approach to determining morality. It is an interesting argument, clearly well thought out, strong and enticing, but I still have reservations.
While, as Harris argues, a science of morality may be possible, human beings do things that are totally irrational, often very impulsive and frequently even in violation of their own best interests. Harris realizes this, but I believe that there are practical models for morality that can be more fully and regularly applied by people in their normal decision making.
Using Harris' technique, consider this: Captain Kirk (Star Trek) makes a decision. Mr. Spock gives him one of the "Spook is puzzled looks" and says, "Is that logical, Captain?" A science of morality is Dr. Spock, Captain Kirk is the rest of us.
Still, I like the thinking and arguments. It was a pleasure to get back to reading Harris after such a long time since my last visit to his work.
Still, however, for a clear presentation on human morality, I recommend the incomparable six stages of morality developed by Lawrence Kohlberg as well as the clear reasoning and concrete examples of Jacob Bronowski. Kohlberg's book is difficult to obtain and expensive, but a search of him and a glance at the Wikipedia article will give people the idea of the power of his work. Bronowski's book, The Ascent of Man" became a PBS series a few years ago.
( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
The Moral Landscape is a well-written and thoughtful exercise in secular moral realism, but it attempts to do something far more ambitious—it purports to give us the basis for a science of morality. While the subtitle of Harris' book insists otherwise, science cannot determine human values—it can do no more than tell us how to best implement the values we already have.
added by rybie2 | editNew Rambler, Bryan Druzin (Mar 28, 2016)
 
In sum, Harris's fight against relativism, his desire to inform morality with the sciences, and his quest to bring philosophical and scientific topics to those outside the academic world are all praiseworthy goals and should be mimicked by Christian thinkers. However, Harris's tendancy [sic.] to write as if there are simply no other arguments around besides his own, certainly no rival ethical (much less scientific) theories, is nothing less than astonishing. It relieves him of any epistemic obligation to answer serious objections to his ethical theory.
added by Christa_Josh | editWestminster Theological Journal, Patrick Arnold (Sep 1, 2011)
 
In the end, it’s odd that one can share so many of Harris’s views and yet find his project largely unsuccessful. I certainly share his vision of the well-being of conscious creatures as a sensible end for ethics. And I agree that science can and should help us to attain this end. And I certainly agree that religion has no monopoly on morals. The problem—and it’s one that Harris never faces up to—is that one can agree with all these things and yet not think that morality should be “considered an undeveloped branch of science.”
 
Yet such science is best appreciated with a sense of what we can and cannot expect from it, and a real contribution to the old project of a “naturalized ethics” would have required a fuller engagement with its contradictions and complications. Instead, the landscape that the book calls to mind is that of a city a few days after a snowstorm. A marvelously clear avenue stretches before us, but the looming banks to either side betray how much has been unceremoniously swept aside.
 

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Bestselling author Sam Harris dismantles the most common justification for religious faith--that a moral system cannot be based on science.

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