The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (Google eBook)

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 5, 2010 - Science - 304 pages
22 Reviews

S
am 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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I expected to read a book about how science could help us in a moral dilemma, but it turn out to be book about his opinions. Furthermore 1/3 of is bullshit, just references

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This book is a bold jump into the field of science-based ethics. The idea that science can address morals and values is an interesting one, and deserves investigation. Harris demonstrates his wonderful geekiness with an index and notes section almost equivalent in size to the rest of the book, but perhaps to make up for a lack of thoroughness in philosophical reason. I really enjoyed the book and really--he is presenting an idea very much on its infancy, so kudos for that. The preliminary arguments are intriguing and presented in a way that are easily digestible even for non-philosophers and non-theologians, but like others have pointed out, his undergraduate studies in philosophy are not sufficient to stand up against the rigors of the PhD opponents with which he has gone toe-to-toe, nor would I expect them to. 

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Contents

introduction The moral landscape
1
moral Truth
27
Good and Evil
55
belief
113
religion
145
The Future of Happiness
177
Acknowledgments
193
Notes references 195 239
195
index
281
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Sam Harris’s diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film, and television to writer, director, and producer. His now legendary performances on TV’s Star Search led to a multi-million selling recording career. Sam has nine studio CDs to his credit and has toured the world in concert, played The White House, Carnegie Hall, with the Boston Pops and with Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors tour. He is also a Tony nominated Broadway star, (The Life, Grease, The Producers) and starred in numerous off-Broadway productions including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Hair, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, The Jazz Singer and The First Wives Club. Sam was a series regular on the CBS series, The Class, and has appeared on numerous television shows as an actor and also a popular talk show guest on everything from Leno to Oprah to Fallon. Behind the scenes, he created and co-wrote the TBS television series, Down to Earth, the musical Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood!, and Liza’s Back at the Palace, (which won the Tony Award), co-produced the television special Love Letter to New York, and wrote and directed the concert event New York's Finest. He now adds author to his long list of accomplishments with the release of his first book: Ham: Slices of a Life, a collection of essays and stories published by Simon & Schuster. Sam lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Danny, and their child, Cooper. For more information, please visit: SamHarris.com and Facebook.com/SamFans.

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