Mag's Reviews > The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris
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's review
Dec 31, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: philosophy, moral-issues, science, non-fiction, religion
Read from May 02 to 07, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

In a nutshell, Harris argues that morality should be considered an undeveloped branch of science, and questions about values- about meaning, morality, and life’s larger purpose- are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. Values therefore translate into facts that can be scientifically understood, and easily quantifiable. Meaning, values, morality must relate to facts about conscious creatures and must relate to the states of the conscious brain.
Circumstances in the life of a conscious creature that are conducive to happy and safe life in harmony with others contribute to the increased well-being of that creature, and should be considered morally sound, whereas circumstances that diminish it through cruelty, hatred, terror, etc., should be considered morally wrong. He calls it a science of human flourishing and argues that religion isn’t necessary to know what’s morally sound and what’s not.

I found the thesis for this book morally and scientifically satisfying, yet rated it down because Harris kept repeating himself, and also perhaps because I was already familiar with some of the research he quoted.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Denisegordon (new)

Denisegordon Hi Magda,
Bring it to the ballet if you think it is worth reading. We have much to catch up on.

message 2: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag It is worth reading, even though a bit repetitious from time to time, but the ideas are very good. I'll have it with me whenever we meet.

message 3: by Jakub (new)

Jakub He's gotten a LOT of criticism from pretty much every angle:

In fact, even in the humanist/rationalist circles I run in, I haven't heard many good things about this book.

message 5: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag Have you read the book? Why don't you form your own opinion?? :)

message 6: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag This is from Harris' response:
'it is hard to ignore the fact that negative reviews can be very damaging to one's cause. Not only do they discourage smart people from reading a book, they can lead them to disparage it as though they had discovered its flaws for themselves. Consider the following published remarks from the philosopher Colin McGinn, whose work I greatly admire:

I think Sam Harris' idea is equally bad [as religion-based morality], I'm surprised he'd write on it. There's just some really bad thinking in Sam Harris's new book, I haven't read it yet, but that's because from what I've heard, it sounds terrible and wrong-headed and just bizarre.'

Enough said- you're falling for the same thing...

message 7: by Jakub (new)

Jakub I've watched his lectures where he expounds his arguments, and I found them completely unconvincing. That, combined with other people's comments, have strongly discouraged me from picking up the book.

message 8: by Mag (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mag Well, his arguments made sense to me- as a framework to be worked on He doesnt pretent it's anything but. I can send you the book along with that other one I'll be sending.

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