An analysis of morality of science

Are facts and values distinct? If values and morals do not rely on facts, how can we possibly agree on them? Is there a universal right and wrong? These questions have entered the deliberations of many philosophers and scientists, yet very few people seem to agree on the answers.

An analysis of morality of science

Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. In February, I spoke at the TED conferencewhere I briefly argued that morality should be considered an undeveloped branch of science.

Science of morality - Wikipedia

Normally, when one speaks at a conference the resulting feedback amounts to a few conversations in the lobby during a coffee break. An analysis of morality of science had these conversations at TED, of course, and they were useful.

As luck would have it, however, my talk was broadcast on the internet just as I was finishing a book on the relationship between science and human values, and this produced a blizzard of criticism at a moment when criticism could actually do me some good.

I made a few efforts to direct and focus this feedback, and the result has been that for the last few weeks I have had literally thousands of people commenting upon my work, more or less in real time.

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If nothing else, the response to my TED talk proves that many smart people believe that something in the last few centuries of intellectual progress prevents us from making cross-cultural moral judgments -- or moral judgments at all. Thousands of highly educated men and women have now written to inform me that morality is a myth, that statements about human values are without truth conditions and, therefore, nonsensical, and that concepts like "well-being" and "misery" are so poorly defined, or so susceptible to personal whim and cultural influence, that it is impossible to know anything about them.

Many people also claim that a scientific foundation for morality would serve no purpose, because we can combat human evil while knowing that our notions of "good" and "evil" are unwarranted.

It is always amusing when these same people then hesitate to condemn specific instances of patently abominable behavior. Given my experience as a critic of religion, I must say that it has been disconcerting to see the caricature of the over-educated, atheistic moral nihilist regularly appearing in my inbox and on the blogs.

I sincerely hope that people like Rick Warren have not been paying attention.

An analysis of morality of science

First, a disclaimer and non-apology: Many of my critics fault me for not engaging more directly with the academic literature on moral philosophy. First, while I have read a fair amount of this literature, I did not arrive at my position on the relationship between human values and the rest of human knowledge by reading the work of moral philosophers; I came to it by considering the logical implications of our making continued progress in the sciences of mind.

Second, I am convinced that every appearance of terms like "metaethics," "deontology," "noncognitivism," "anti-realism," "emotivism," and the like, directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe.

My goal, both in speaking at conferences like TED and in writing my book, is to start a conversation that a wider audience can engage with and find helpful. Few things would make this goal harder to achieve than for me to speak and write like an academic philosopher.

Perversion of the Natural Order

Of course, some discussion of philosophy is unavoidable, but my approach is to generally make an end run around many of the views and conceptual distinctions that make academic discussions of human values so inaccessible.

Many people believe that the problem with talking about moral truth, or with asserting that there is a necessary connection between morality and well-being, is that concepts like "morality" and "well-being" must be defined with reference to specific goals and other criteria -- and nothing prevents people from disagreeing about these definitions.

Of course, goals and conceptual definitions matter. But this holds for all phenomena and for every method we use to study them. My father, for instance, has been dead for 25 years. What do I mean by "dead"? Do I mean "dead" with reference to specific goals?

The Science of Values: The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

Well, if you must, yes -- goals like respiration, energy metabolism, responsiveness to stimuli, etc. The definition of "life" remains, to this day, difficult to pin down. The science of biology thrives despite such ambiguities.

An analysis of morality of science

The concept of "health" is looser still: Our notion of "health" may one day be defined by goals that we cannot currently entertain with a straight face like the goal of spontaneously regenerating a lost limb.Oct 10,  · The tragic example of Victor Frankenstein serves to generally highlight the danger of man’s unbridled thirst for knowledge, a science without morality; however, a deeper consideration of the novel’s text reveals a Reviews: A recent theory proposes that moral judgment is an evolved strategy for choosing sides in conflicts.

Evidence from moral psychology undermines previous evolutionary theories of morality focused on. She proposed that science analyze: (a) existing social norms and their history, (b) the psychology of morality, and the way that individuals interact with moral matters and prescriptions, and (c) the sociology of morality.

Jan 01,  · The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom by Michael Shermer “The Moral Arc” makes the compelling case that the world is progressing morally and that most of this development is a result of secular forces.4/5.

Harris's approach to the development of the science of morality is largely consistent with the behavioral approach; for him, as for behavior analysts, morality is behavior, and that behavior is subject to environmental (and biological) manipulation. Science, Technology, and Morality in Shelley's Frankenstein Essay - Frankenstein and Science Science is the knowledge gained by a systematic study, knowledge which then becomes facts or principles.

An analysis of morality of science