The Moral Landscape

How Science Can Determine Human Values

Sam Harris

An attempt at formalizing or defining morality. That’s a hard task, but Harris doesn’t fail completely.


I like to read Harris. I agree with him. I think that morality is a scientific topic (as is everything else). Religion might have been useful in the past but is long outdated and inappropriate for the 21st century. Science won’t tell us the truth (in morality), it tells us the best way to search for the truth, it is just a technique. And that’s for me the main message of the book.

Morality is about decreasing human sufferring.

What is possible now (eating animals, selling weapons, harassing women) might be considered immoral and even disgusting in the future.

Clippings

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

While it would be unethical to deprive young children of normal care for the purposes of experiment, society inadvertently performs such experiments every day.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

differences of opinion on moral questions merely reveal the incompleteness of our knowledge; they do not oblige us to respect a diversity of views indefinitely.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

religious dogmatism, racism, sexism, or other failures of insight and compassion

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

There may be nothing more important than human cooperation.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

The results of these failures are no less tragic for being utterly commonplace: deception, theft, violence, and their associated miseries arise in a continuous flux of misspent human energy. When one considers the proportion of our limited time and resources that must be squandered merely to guard against theft and violence (to say nothing of addressing their effects), the problem of human cooperation seems almost the only problem worth thinking about.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

People with two ethical codes are perpetually susceptible to embarrassments of this kind.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

research on people’s responses to unfamiliar moral dilemmas suggests that religion has no effect on moral judgments that involve weighing harms

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

research on people’s responses to unfamiliar moral dilemmas suggests that religion has no effect on moral judgments that involve weighing harms against benefits

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

Today, we are surely more likely to act for the benefit of humanity as a whole than at any point in the past.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

We will embarrass our descendants, just as our ancestors embarrass us. This is moral progress.

The Moral Landscape (Sam Harris)

we systematically overestimate the degree to which good and bad experiences will affect us.

January 8, 2019 |