Book review

The Moral Landscape

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
Read date: August 2017

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As you’d expect with Sam Harris, an excellent, well-argued case for (in this case) his vision of a morality based on science. He argues that if you accept that human flourishing comes from our brains (i.e. that there is no separate, dualistic, soul) then science clearly can investigate and improve our flourishing. Furthermore, morality (if it means anything at all) is surely somehow to do with human flourishing: we may not clearly understand at the moment what the ways we can best flourish, but the study of them is surely accessible to science, because science can increasingly directly image the brain. For those who hew to the is-ought distinction, they are ultimately misguided: where else can any “ought” come from, if not from states of our brain (an “is”)? If it comes from elsewhere and doesn’t ever touch the brain, then it is entirely inaccessible to us. As soon as it touches the brain, it’s an “is”.

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