Moral Landscape

Harris, Sam

How could we ever say, as a matter of scientific face, chat one way of life is better, or more moral, than another? Whose definition of "better" or "moral" would we use? While many scientists now study the evolution of morality, as well as its underlying neurobiology, the purpose of their research is merely to describe how human beings chink and behave. No one expects science to tell us how we ought to think and behave. Controversies about human values are controversies about which science officially has no opinion. I will argue, however, that questions about values-about meaning, morality, and life's larger purpose-are really questions about the wellbeing of conscious creatures. Values, therefore, translate into facts chat can be scientifically understood regarding positive and negative social emotions, retributive impulses, the effects of specific laws and social institutions on human relationships, the neurophysiology of happiness and suffering, etc. The most important of these faces are bound to transcend culture-just as facts about physical and mental health do.

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