The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

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The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Format:  Hardcover,

291 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publish Date: Oct 2010

ISBN-13: 9781439171219

ISBN-10: 1439171211

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Sam Harris's first book, "The End of Faith, "ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people--from religious fundamentalists to nonbelieving scientists--agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to "respect" the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors.
In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Harris urges us to think about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a "moral landscape." Because there are definite facts to be known about where we fall on this landscape, Harris foresees a time when science will no longer limit itself to merely describing what people do in the name of "morality"; in principle, science should be able to tell us what we "ought "to do to live the best lives possible.
Bringing a fresh perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong and good and evil, Harris demonstrates that we already know enough about the human brain and its relationship to events in the world to say that there are right and wrong answers to the most pressing questions of human life. Because such answers exist, moral relativism is simply false--and comes at increasing cost to humanity. And the intrusions of religion into the sphere of human values can be finally repelled: for just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality.
Using his expertise in philosophy and neuroscience, along with his experience on the front lines of our "culture wars," Harris delivers a game-changing book about the future of science and about the real basis of human cooperation.

Specifications

Author:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: Oct 2010
ISBN-13: 9781439171219
ISBN-10: 1439171211
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 291
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 2.0
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.38 x 1.06 x 9.19

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2011-02-15)

Neuroscientist Harris, author of the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award-winning The End of Faith, also available from S. & S. Audio, continues his philosophical dissection of organized religion and his disputation of secularist notions of tolerance for all belief systems as he seeks to ground human morality in scientific study. He presents his analysis of the human brain's response to situations that seem to present moral dilemmas, illustrating that the concepts of morality and evolution are not conflicting and that there are evolutionary as well as ne uro scientific explanations for our ethical impulses.

Harris himself narrates, in a style that communicates his intellectual depth as well as his obvious emotional connection to his work. For anyone interested in the philosophy of ethics and for those seeking a viewpoint that separates itself from the ostensible opposition of modern conservative and liberal thought.

-Christopher Rager, Pasadena, CA

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

Sam Harris’s first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people—from religious fundamentalists to nonbelieving scientists—agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to "respect" the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors.

In this explosive new book, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge. Harris urges us to think about morality in terms of human and animal well-being, viewing the experiences of conscious creatures as peaks and valleys on a "moral landscape". Because there are definite facts to be known about where we fall on this landscape, Harris foresees a time when science will no longer limit itself to merely describing what people do in the name of "morality"; in principle, science should be able to tell us what we ought to do to live the best lives possible.

Bringing a fresh perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong and good and evil, Harris demonstrates that we already know enough about the human brain and its relationship to events in the world to say that there are right and wrong answers to the most pressing questions of human life. Because such answers exist, moral relativism is simply false—and comes at increasing cost to humanity. And the intrusions of religion into the sphere of human values can be finally repelled: for just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality.

Using his expertise in philosophy and neuroscience, along with his experience on the front lines of our "culture wars", Harris delivers a game-changing book about the future of science and about the real basis of human cooperation.

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