Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Great quote from Sam Harris

I'm currently in the middle of Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Moral Values (2010, Free Press, New York). It's a good read and basically trumpets what I consider to be fairly obvious: in order to move from an "is" to an "ought", we need to ground our moral precepts on that which promotes human flourishing. In other words, "maximizing the well-being of conscious creatures ... is .... the only thing we can reasonably value" (p. 11). He then goes on to discuss how the scientific method can assist us in this valuing exercise.

While writing about the fact that our retributive impulses are flawed if human goodness/evil are the product of natural events, Harris makes a great point:

"It seems to me that few concepts have offered greater scope for human cruelty than the idea of an immortal soul that stands independent of all material influences, ranging from genes to economic systems". (p. 110)

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


  1. An interesting point. I don't mind if people believe in an afterlife, but when that idea becomes more important than the life one is currently living, it can have perverse consequences.

    Regards, Paul.

  2. how we won the James Randi $1,000,000 Paranormal Challenge


  3. This is an important point that you and Sam Harris make. With the chance of redemption for everything we do by just saying magic words people really think they can do anything.