A Critique of Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape"

in 2010 sam harris released this book the moral landscape in it he claims that science can determine human values and that therefore morality could be a new branch of science something which has been disputed in both scientific and philosophical circles for a long time the title of the book refers to a theoretical landscape in which the peaks represent the heights of well-being and the valleys represent the deepest suffering having an interest in moral philosophy I decided to read it and do a response now there are many angles from which you could criticize this book but I'm not going to do it from the perspective of some particular theoretical framework although it may be fun I won't do in each Ian's criticism of how despite him being an anti-theist Harris's values are actually in essence Christian I will simply show how he fails to do what he sets out to do first some preliminary remarks I'm using the free press export edition of this book of which you can find a PDF link in the video description all the pages I will cite correspond to pages in the PDF file additionally whenever I reference a source I will show a number in the corner of the video which corresponds to a source in the video description I will only focus on this book and not any of his earlier or later works as this is his biggest statement on ethics so let's begin it is important to note that Harris does not simply claim that science can tell us what humans do value but what humans should value what humans ought to value for Harris's argument to work he must address the is ought to distinction in the 18th century in his book treatise on human nature the Scottish philosopher David Hume pointed out what is now known as the is Auto distinction it refers to how there is a difference between claims about how the world is and how the world ought to be this is because his claims are descriptive that is they describe the world while art claims are normative they provide norms for how people ought to act the distinction between is and art and between descriptive statements and normative statements is also similar to the distinction between facts and values if you want to find out if your claim about how the world is an empirical matters is correct you simply have to investigate the world and see if your claim corresponds to how the world is which is something that scientific inquiry does but how do you find out if your art claims are correct it would seem that because art claims do not describe the world they cannot correspond to how the world is and therefore cannot be addressed by empirical science because of this Hume believed that art claims could never be derived from his claims claims about how we should act could never be derived from claims about how the world is because these are fundamentally different domains this is related to the naturalistic fallacy which points out that just because something is natural does not mean that it is valuable or desirable note that this distinction does not mean that descriptive claims cannot help us follow normative claims but merely that they cannot provide us with normative claims for instance if I accept the claim we ought to reduce human suffering I can then consult the sciences to see what an effective way of doing this would be however I cannot consult the sciences to provide me with the odd claim itself to begin with this also ties into the British philosopher GE Moore's open question argument this refers to how if one says eight is good because it leads to B you can always follow the question up with asking why is B good then if you say B is good because it leads to C you can just the same ask why is C good and so on for infinity the is odd distinction has been profoundly influential in moral philosophy it has led to hundreds of years of arguments about related questions can the is odd gap ever be bridged can objective morality be secured in light of this distinction where can we derive aught claims from now science concerns itself with descriptive claims it seeks to understand how the world is and therefore it seems that art claims are not in the domain of science because sam harris claims that science can answer normative questions it is important for him to attack this distinction so let's see how he does this on page 14 he outlines three ways in which he believes that the distinction between facts and values is illusory one whatever can be known about maximizing the well-being of conscious creatures which is I will argue the only thing we can reasonably value must at some point translate into facts about brains and their interaction with the world at large – the very idea of objective knowledge ie knowledge acquired through honest observation and reasoning has values built into it as every effort we make to discuss facts depends upon principles that we must first value eg logical consistency reliance on evidence parsimony etc three beliefs about facts and beliefs about values seem to arise from similar processes at the level of the brain it appears that we have a common system for judging truth and falsity in both domains now wait a second 1 & 2 contradict each other in point 1 he claims that the well-being of conscious creatures is the only thing we can reasonably value however in point 2 he claims that scientific knowledge presupposes values which are not defined in terms of well-being like logical consistency in evidence if he takes these two points seriously standing side by side in his book the conclusion must be that seeking objective knowledge is unreasonable doesn't seem to notice that he contradicts himself here and there is no attempt at reconciliation of those two points anywhere in the book we could however think of the possible ways in which they could be reconciled sam harris could say that things like logical consistency are actually defined in terms of well-being but that would lead him to lose all credibility among his followers would he really claim that whether something is logically consistent or not depends on whether it increases well-being or not he could claim that we value things like logical consistency because it leads to well-being however this would lead him to claim that we do not value logical consistency in itself I'm sure that if you ask the theoretical physicist if they value logical consistency in their work even if it doesn't increase well-being they would probably say they do and I don't think sam harris would call them unreasonable for this finally he could claim that he's using some very broad all-inclusive definition of well-being but this would be M issues of language that would lead Harris to shoot himself in the foot as a big chunk of his argument in Chapter two is that people who disagree with his definition of well-being are misusing language either way he's screwed it's the introductory chapter and he's already painted himself into a corner even if we ignore the contradiction notice how number two does not prove that the gap between facts and values is illusory at all just because a presupposes B does not mean that a and B are of the same quality or have the same properties the fact that scientific inquiry presupposes certain values does not prove that those values are in some way indistinguishable from the inquiry no more than my desire for a Berger is in some way indistinguishable from me purchasing a burger number three is elaborated in the third chapter on belief where Sam Harris makes the claim that the distinction between facts and values is illusory because according to his experiments in neuroscience believing descriptive claims like the Sun is a star works similarly to believing normative claims like cruelty is wrong in terms of brain function however just because something is similar in terms of brain function does not mean that it is epistemological e-equivalent a Goodreads reviewer points out I use my eyes and visual cortex to process both the side of a hamburger and the Grand Canyon that doesn't mean I can eat a national landmark or go whitewater rafting through a beef product as another example if Harris is right that descriptive and normative claims are similar in terms of brain function which I'm not sure if he is as his work in neuroscience has been extremely flawed and careless then it is also probably true that believing a claim like broccoli is disgusting is similar in terms of brain function but that does not mean that we can have an objective science of which foods we should find the tastiest again note that he does not claim that science can tell us merely what we do value but what we should value you'll notice that Harris talks about brains a lot he just loves brains he mentions brains 27 times in the introductory chapter alone this is of course because he has an interest in neuroscience and so he simply assumes that morality should be made sense of in terms of neural physiology on page 8 he says the more we understand ourselves at the level of the brain the more we will see that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human values this is what the clinical neuroscientist raymond Tallis has called new Romania the misguided attempt to reduce all social phenomena down to neurophysiology although to a lot of people this has intuitive appeal there is no inherent reason why it should be done this way imagine for instance that you're trying to make sense of the rules of a game of basketball you wouldn't do this by looking at the neuro physiological states of someone observing the game or even someone playing the game or even the some of the physiological states of everyone playing the game and this is not only because it would be needlessly complicated it's because complex intersubjective activities with intensive properties form something greater than simply the sum of its neuro physiological parts and therefore any analysis of the rules of basketball carried out merely neuro scientifically will inevitably leave out a big part of the picture this is even more true for something as complicated as the moral values of humanity even besides this ethics cannot be entirely reduced down to its effects on your physiology for instance many ethical questions concern our duties to those who are no longer living and therefore no longer have neurophysiological states for example what duties do we have two cultures or nations that have been wronged in the past or to what extent must we honor the wishes people made known to us before passing away conversely some ethical questions concern those who do not yet exist and therefore denied yet have neurophysiological states for example what do we owe to the coming generations and recent developments in environmental ethics ethical questions have been extended even to non-sentient nature of course any answers we might give to these questions will be realized in our brains but this is true for literally every single field of study on page 27 he makes the argument that we should make sense of ethics neurophysiological e because ethical matters always involve consciousness this is trivially true insofar as all human matters involve consciousness but it doesn't prove that we should make sense of morality in these terms any more than it proves that we should make sense of economics anthropology sociology or political science in terms of neurophysiology one of the questions that have been discussed among philosophers in relation to the is aught distinction is the meta ethical question of whether aught claims have truth value can or motive questions be answered and if so how do we find out whether the answers are true or not for Harris to argue his case he must of course believe that odd claims can have truth value so how does he argue this well on page 9 he says the deeper point is that there simply must be answers to questions of this kind simply must be it might be simple for Sam Harris but he does not explain why there simply must be and considering there are numerous philosophers who disagree with him I don't think saying simply must be will do in fact you will notice that this is not the only time that Sam Harris makes philosophical claims with absolutely no follow up arguments on page 13 he calls Moore's open question argument of verbal trap no arguments follow he does not tell us how it is a verbal trap or how to avoid it similarly on page 30 he says that huge notion of art seems to be another dismal product of Abrahamic religion he does not explain why he thinks that or give any account of how we developed out of Abrahamic religion just throws it out there this is essentially all that his arguments against the is odd distinction boiled down to he does not even begin to scratch its surface let alone demolish it but this is only one half of his argument the other half depends on his claims about well-being so let's assume that sam harris actually proved that the is odd distinction is invalid now he must show why morality has to be defined in terms of well-being his argument is pretty simple there is nothing that morality could concern itself with other than well-being and if people claim otherwise they are misusing language what is most striking about this is how he frames hypothetical objections to his argument what if certain people insist that their values or morality have nothing to do with well-being what if a man like Jeffrey Dahmer says the only peaks on the moral landscape that interest me are ones where I get to murder young men and have sex with their corpses similarly on page 29 I might claim that morality is really about maximizing well-being but someone else will be free to say that morality depends upon worshipping the gods of the Aztecs and that well-being entails always having a terrified person locked in one's basement waiting to be sacrificed and no I'm not making these quotes up it is certainly easy to agree with sam harris if you fall for his false dichotomy that you either have to agree with his definition of morality or the definition of serial killers and practitioners of human sacrifice does he respond to objections from actual ethicists or moral philosophers no just a hypothetical objection from Jeffrey Dahmer so you may now ask what could we value if not well being well SMS himself pointed out scientific inquiry depends on certain values like logical consistency and reliance on evidence by extension a lot of people value truth there's an argument by Robert Nozick in his book Anarchy state and utopia known as the experience machine which addresses claims that all we can ethically care about is maximizing pleasure or happiness or well-being imagine that a group of scientists have created a certain kind of elation machine something like the matrix if you enter this machine and stay in it for the rest of your life and isolation you will experience long lasting happiness you will experience whatever you find pleasurable and although all the experiences will be merely simulated you won't be able to tell that these experiences aren't real some people would agree to enter this machine but a very large amount of people wouldn't and the fact that they wouldn't poses a problem for claims that all people truly care about is experiencing well-being is it reasonable of them to think this way a lot of people would say it is but if we follow Harris's statement that we can only reasonably value well-being we would have to deem them unreasonable why well I don't know Sam Harris never actually puts forth a standard by which to measure whether a value is reasonable or not in itself which a scientific morality would require I'll give one more example and this is a big one the moral philosophy of conte Cantus arguably the most influential figure in modern moral philosophy standing behind some of the most culturally entrenched ideas about the ethical significance of autonomy and universal rights and his philosophy is still mentioned in ethical debates up to this day he believed that one in order for moral laws to be universally valid they cannot be based on empirical circumstances because everyone's empirical circumstances are different and cannot serve as a basis for moral law consequentially according to him you cannot settle ethical matters through empirical science the way Harris wants to do – because morality is not empirical whether an act is moral or not cannot be determined by its consequences rather it must be determined by the nature of the act itself whether it follows the moral law or not finally the moral law cannot be defined in terms of well-being but must be established through universal practical reason in order for an act to be moral it must be done for its own sake and not because it maximizes well-being these three tenets are all directly opposed to what Harris wants to do notice also that while Sam Harris simply claims that valuing anything besides well-being is unreasonable without actually providing a standard by which to measure that reasonableness conte does do this whether a moral value is reasonable or not itself depends on whether it adheres to the moral laws given by practical reason does Harris address views such as cons no he barely engages with the literature on moral philosophy at all he mentions Conte in a small paragraph on chapter 2 page 57 and says while can't believe that this criterion of universal applicability was the product of pure reason it appeals to us because it relies on basic intuitions about fairness and justification again no follow up arguments he doesn't discuss Conte in any way that would remotely challenge his theory and the footnotes he makes the claim that cons moral philosophy is a covert form of consequentialism while he wouldn't be the first one to make this claim he provides no arguments later in the footnotes he says that cons commitment to viewing people as ends in themselves and not merely as means is a useful moral principle but is difficult to map out on to the world with precision are you kidding me you're going to criticize his view of people as ends in themselves because it's difficult to map out with precision how easy it is to map out your vague definition of well-being on to the world with precision especially when your definition includes potentially contradictory notions and boy doesn't include potentially contradictory notions on page 28 he says that all other philosophical efforts to describe morality in terms of duty fairness justice or some other principle that is not explicitly tied to the well-being of conscious creatures draw upon some conception of well-being in the end try to guess whether he follows up with an argument or not you guessed it he doesn't he claims this like it's a necessary truth despite the numerous philosophers who believe that well-being is not the only component of morality or not an essential component of morality at all the difficulty for Harris is that in order for his argument to work not only must he show that well-being is a necessary component of morality but that it is also the only reasonable component of morality this makes one wonder what is Harris's definition of well-being is it defined in terms of pleasure preference fulfillment character development he doesn't really say he merely says that it is an evolving term and this is a problem when his argument hinges on the claim that the way morality must be defined is obvious by definition on page 32 he identifies being ethically wrong with forsaking far deeper and more durable sources of satisfaction this sounds a lot like utilitarianism which claims that ethics should be defined in terms of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain but Harris is intent on pointing out that it's not playing utilitarianism because he's talking about well-being not pleasure so again what does he mean by well-being if his definition includes everything from duty to fairness to justice he might as well just call it something even more vague like goodness but in that case he hasn't even begun to provide any kind of outline for a new science his use of the word well-being just becomes a magical catch-all term that is as vague as it is unhelpful reading Harris's book you could get the impression that what ethicists and current debates argue about is whether we should be serial killers or not and Harris's breakthroughs to simply say no you should think about well-being but this does not even begin to address any of the difficult questions actually being discussed in ethical discussions what do we do when for example our notions of duty conflict with our notions of justice or when our notions of rights conflict with our concerns with maximizing happiness when necessary how do we prioritize whose well-being will work to increase how do we reconcile possible conflicts between groups and individuals for Harris's argument to work he must argue that science can solve all of these conflicts but he doesn't he merely assumes that his definition of well-being is clear and uncontroversial despite how vague it is it offers us no help in solving ethical dilemmas let alone in establishing a new science on page 45 Harris correctly states that his ethical theory involves consequentialism that is the idea that the morality of an act should be determined by the consequences it leads to and moral realism the idea that ethical claims refer to objective features of the world in order for his theory to be right consequentialism and moral realism must be correct so on page 45 he says while moral realism and consequentialism have both come under pressure in philosophical circles they have the virtue of corresponding to many of our intuitions about how the world works way white he won't actually refute the arguments which have put moral realism and consequentialism under pressure he won't even mention them just disregard them by saying that at least his theory is intuitive he doesn't explore the ways in which consequentialism is intuitive he doesn't discuss the ways in which it is also often unintuitive he doesn't at all explore to what extent these intuitions are historically contingent or even coherent with the rest of our intuitions he just waves off all current debates and ethics by going well my position is intuitive now it is common in ethics to talk about what's intuitive because typically we want an ethical theory that conforms to our most deeply held intuitions about what's right especially if you're arguing for a form of ethical intuition ISM that is the idea that moral truths or principles can be known through intuition but notice that this is not at all what Harris wants to do he wants to establish an empirical science so intuition shouldn't even be relevant at all for him the idea that the earth orbits around the Sun and not the other way around was for a long time very unintuitive to most people the Darwinian idea that more complex life forms evolved out of simpler ones also used to be profoundly unintuitive science is not meant to just go by intuition in fact on page 121 Harris himself says that the best of psychological research also reveals that our intuitions about happiness are often quite wrong so his only response to arguments against consequentialism and moral realism which he does not even bother mentioning is well my theory is intuitive this is not how you establish a science one could just as well say while creation science has recently come under pressure in scientific circles it has the virtue of corresponding to many of our intuitions about how the world works the sentence does however have a footnote at the end so let's see if Harrah's expands on his argument he writes consequentialism has undergone many refinements since the original utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill my discussion will ignore most of these developments as they are generally of interest only to academic philosophers the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy provides a good summary article Wow when I read this I started wondering what it is that sam harris thinks he's doing it is only of interest to academic philosophers as opposed to who people who are only pretending to do philosophy it would be fine if this was just the minor detail on the margins of his greater argument but no the entire book depends on consequential isn't being correct and then he just throws out an online summary article as if it fills in the huge gap left there by his lack of argumentation imagine this happening in any other field what if someone said I have discovered a new scientific foundation on which to base economics but I will ignore all the recent developments in economics because there are only of interest to academic economists this shows not only a lack of respect for the field Sam Harris is dabbling in but also a profound arrogance on his part this attitude that he does not even have to engage with the arguments I also understand that he cannot address all relevant arguments in a single book but he does not address even some of the most central ones instead he has an entire chapter on religion for no explicit reason other than that he's Sam Harris most of the chapter is just a rehash of his previous writings on religion and he doesn't even tie the majority of it into his greater argument about ethics in fact if there is one thing that is consistent throughout this book its Harris's unwillingness to actually engage with the literature in the field to actually address the arguments made by ethicists and moral philosophers it's not that in order to make arguments on a given topic one has to know everything that people have already said about it it's just that if sam harris would actually engage with the literature he would see how the claims he's making have already been argued for before except more clearly and extensively and discussed for hundreds of years does he know for in since that jeremy bentham already in the 18th century believed that science could determine how moral and act is by measuring the happiness and suffering it leads to by the standard of what he called the philosophic calculus kind of like the moral landscape and that he even also saw religion as an impediment to this endeavor I don't know if he does Jeremy Bentham's name is mentioned once in a single footnote but none of his views are discussed in a footnote on the introductory chapter he gives this as a reason for not engaging with the literature in the field I am convinced that every appearance of terms like meta ethics the ontology non-cognitive ism anti-realism emotivism etc directly increases the amount of boredom in the universe this is childish I get it if sam harris doesn't want to use those big clunky words but he could at least address the core of the arguments this would also be understandable if harris was merely giving a beginner's introduction or a summary article of certain ethical theories but no not only is he making a big argument he's trying to establish a science he doesn't just get to excuse himself by claiming that the topic he's engaging in is boring again what if someone claimed to be establishing a new branch of evolutionary biology but then didn't engage with the developments in the field on the grounds that terms like natural selection genetics and Darwinism increased the amount of boredom in the universe he ends this footnote by saying the professional philosophers I've consulted seem to understand and support what I am doing they seem to understand and support it huh he does not mention a single name who are these philosophers who support what he's doing what have Lee said about his work I guess we're just supposed to take Harris's word for it I'm sorry for being so negative here but after reading the entirety of this book and seeing the complete lack of respect Harris has for moral philosophy and thus Tana Shing overestimation he has of his own reasoning I must say that I have never read a work on ethics so messy Harris's definitions become so vague that they can't even serve as a guide to ethical questions let alone a new science and he still manages to contradict himself some of the arguments he makes can be refuted with just the basic grasp of syllogistic reasoning and many of the claims don't even involve arguments at all imagine one day that a new public figure by the name of sham Harris appears sham claims to have found a new firm scientific basis for all of economics he then proceeds to vaguely describe behavioral economics without actually calling it that and does not engage with any contemporary works on economics on the grounds that they're of interest only to academic economists in terms like macroeconomics or supply and demand increased the amount of boredom in the universe how would economists react to this well if they actually bothered paying any attention to it they wouldn't take it seriously they mostly wouldn't even bother engaging with shams arguments and wouldn't discuss his book in economics classes this is also exactly why ethicists and moral philosophers don't take the moral landscape seriously even if some of Harris's fans would like to believe that it's only because they're afraid to face sam harris and all his powerful rationality not only that Harris's vagueness makes his claims unfalsifiable and this is where I see a continuity with some of his other claims for example his claims about Islam and terrorism first he makes a claim that to a lot of people seems intuitively plausible or even obvious for example suicide bombings are caused by Islamic beliefs because of the promise of heavenly reward you give harris a counter example for example the fact that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam a secular group have carried out more suicide bombings than Hamas his response is to dilute his definition of religion and say well the Tamil Tigers aren't really secular so now harris has a claim that's intuitively possible but also unfalsifiable and he proceeds to frame the other side of the debate as unreasonable or scared of the facts this is how he argues ethics – first he makes an intuitively plausible claim science can answer moral questions by telling us what leads to well-being when he's given a counter example he dilutes his definition of well-being to include basically anything people could possibly value then he proceeds to frame the other side of the debate as simply not wanting to maximize well-being or being apologists for mindless torture he reduces all nuance presenting the issue as if the only alternatives to his position are religious fundamentalism and complete moral relativism without even distinguishing between different kinds of moral relativism of course this is what makes his image as an unbiased thinker who wants you to examine your prejudices so ironic I think the entirety of the philosophical argumentation in this book can be shortened down to his statement on page 45 to say that an act is morally necessary or evil or blameless is to make tacit claims about its consequences in the lives of conscious creatures whether actual or potential I am unaware of any interesting exceptions to this rule that's it those right there are the two key words when it comes to theories that strongly challenge Harris's claims use either unaware or uninterested however in concluding I must say that this book by Sam Harris is a symptom of a larger problem which is people's disinterest in philosophy a cursory overview of moral philosophy would be enough for a lot of people to see just how little harris explores the field there have been public figures in recent years who have bashed philosophy as being dead relegated to the past or as being superseded by the sciences however these same public figures don't cease making philosophical claims they simply often leave them unexamined not only can philosophy examine the theoretical premises of science itself it can help us think more clearly and explore issues like morality something which there is clearly an interest in as evidenced by this book becoming a best-seller people who claim to have superseded philosophy only believe that they have done so as philosopher Simon Blackburn pointed out sam harris is claimed to have transcended philosophy is just an instance of him doing it very badly so this has been a pretty critical video I'll therefore end with something of more positive value now that you've realized Sam Harris is clueless when it comes to ethics you may want to go look into the topic yourself so I'll provide some resources that are available online for free links in the description these will be mostly on the site of analytic ethics as they are more in line with what Sam Harris is interested in I will do this on three layers first of all meta X meta ethics is philosophy about ethics it seeks to answer questions like do ethical statements have truth value what properties do ethical statements have our moral statements a matter of preference a matter of command or a matter of fact etc it is not necessary to know meta ethics in order to do a thix more generally and this topic can be somewhat dry and removed from practical situations but if you're interested in such questions I recommend the book an introduction to contemporary meta ethics by Aleksandr Miller after meta ethics you have normative ethics which seeks to answer questions such as what makes an act good or what should we value and makes ethical evaluations here I'll give three books that are historically significant first the Nicomachean ethics by Aristotle this is a book important for virtue ethics the branch of ethics focused on developing a virtuous character secondly utilitarianism by John Stewart mill although utilitarianism was founded by Jeremy Bentham John Stuart Mill expanded on this idea of graded it and wrote a pretty readable book lastly groundwork of the metaphysics of morals by Conte this is of course a work in context conscience notoriously difficult to read but this is one of his shorter and more accessible works and with a bit of help from Google you should be able to get through it just fine lastly there is applied ethics which is ethics applied to specific relevant ethical questions anything from abortion to immigration policy to warfare to tipping one useful resource here is Oxford's Journal of practical ethics we have an archive here where you can access every article from every volume as I mentioned these are more in line with analytic ethics but this channel mostly focuses on continental philosophy which has a different style or a pro you won't find things like egg alien recognition or existentialist ethics or the Nietzschean approach of the creation of new values in analytic ethics unfortunately the only book I'm currently aware of that provides a general overview of continental ethics is the Continental ethics reader but it's not available for free or in eBook form keep in mind that these recommendations are just general directions in which you can go what you find most helpful will depend on your own interests so I also recommend browsing the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy and the internet encyclopedia of philosophy for any specific topics you may be interested in and finally I'd like to thank my patrons in Ziggy Stardust Sean asked addicts Fahd em homeless snail donald east strong jr. no etre polly no cancer pigeons simon cook the oven Arba arc stanton space smile Pistol Pete Stephens a Valletta Aidan Williams Elizabeth Ward Joseph's patron bat horn choir quantum computation rooftop Korean industrial robot Kelly Rankin John drum no Yvonne Ginsu on gibbering idiot carry on Chavez Tim or Mar knew Andrew burns Michael Dougherty D Lang sinabi Isabel Abdullah Lee Robert Phillips Adam Jones babaco Shahi 10 DS 1 2 3 John Beatles and Suzi oh thank you

Let me save you all a lifetime of reality avoidance. You can't have morals as an atheist because Good and Bad/Evil have no meaning in a non-theistic ideology. so anything that we think of as "bad" or "evil" is completely arbitrary and it is all meaningless. This makes Ben Stillers "philosophy" all the more laughable. Your welcome…

Harris is an idiot, who never actually goes beyond what he states is already a given, doesn't seem to know what objectivity is, and none of his "analogies" are actually analogous.

On the is-ought distinction… what's wrong with this:

Pain is something humans avoid naturally.
Putting your hand on the stove causes pain.
You ought not to put your hand on the stove.

An easy way to defeat Sam Harris and his book? Bondage porn, does a masochist value pain? Is the pain good for him/her? Where does sadomasochism fall on his moral landscape? lol

Sam harris has no expertise in anything he talks about. Why is he making statements about AI? He has never written a line of code…

Thank you I love anybody who breaks down is nonsensical overly articulate vocabulary into logical ideas and shows that he has no logical Consistency and often seems to intentionally Misuse information and mislead people

You should definitely do a Nitcheian criticism of Sam Harris and his Moral Landscape. I'd love to see that.

Sham Harris' new economic system is new public administration tbh. Made by economists not public administration academics made with disregard for the field of public administration

Whenever I do an impression of Sam Harris I always say the word reasonable 100 times. Literally the first passage you analyze contains the word reasonably. I'm dead. EXCELLENT content by the way.

Seems like Sam let his ego get ahead of him. It's a good rule of thumb that if you want to publicize a theory you've crafted, that you should first research and see if someone else publicized a similar theory first. Learn from it, and if it covers everything you were thinking then just push their work. If you see gaps in the original theory, then expand on the original and publish that. Publishing a book assuming no one else has ever thought anything like it is a clear sign of ego overruling intelligence.

Very well done and thoughtful critique. Feels like you put a lot of work into this. Thank you. You got a sub.

The intellectual basis of Sam's moral theory was rigorously contested by the physicist David Deutsche. Sam concedes to the flaws and even posted it on his podcast below.

The arguments laid out in The Moral Landscape is definitely not an intellectual pursuit but rather a civilisational defense of western values and refutation of dogmatism. This is apparent from the moral purpose that must have motivated Sam to even write his book — in short, his own ethical intuitions presuppose his theory of morality.

It's a an extremely brutal but much needed critique of Sam's book — I'd urge everyone to listen:


Really happy to see people are reading Ray Tallis! Bennett and Hacker's Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience is also wonderful.


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