Morality as a science?
Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (2010) argues that the question of moral values is none other than the question of the happiness of conscious beings. In his account Harris sets himself three tasks: to establish ethics as a fully rational and purely scientific discipline, to reinforce and defend naturalism, and to rest the meaning of human life on a non-religious grounding. Harris’ book has met with a negative reaction in journal reviews, but not all the criticisms are justified and the real problem with Harris’ approach, in my view, is different to what his critics suppose. There are at least three reasons why we should reject Harris’ conception of morality as a science. The first is his confused conception of science which brings with it the absence of any scientific (on Harris’ understanding) ethical problems and of their solution. The second reason is an incoherent approach in his account of the origin of values. And finally, the last reason for rejecting Harris’ vision is the form of life which he offers us as the result of accepting ethics founded on science.
Filosofický časopis, redakce, Filosofický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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