Sam Harris – Can science address morality?
Well-known “new atheist” and neuroscientist Sam Harris took on this controversial question at this year’s TED conference.
Harris suggests that conventional wisdom tells us that science has nothing to say about questions of right and wrong. It cannot give us a foundation for values – it cannot give us goals, it can only help us get to our goals.
But, he says, all moral beliefs reduce to both facts about the brain (since beliefs, culture, experience all take place there) and factual claims about the mind, consciousness, and the world around us, etc. Since we can study these beliefs, claims, and their effects, science and reason can guide us to right and wrong answers about human well-being.
What does science tell us about the possibility of moral realism? Within the philosophical debate, science’s relevance is often neglected.