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The Moral Landscape: Determining Objective Morality Scientifically

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posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 04:42 AM
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The pioneering work of Sam Harris in the field of Science of Morality (outlined in his book - The Moral Landscape) shows us that indeed, objective morality can be scientifically discovered with sufficient accuracy for practical purposes.

First step is to establish basic definitions, starting with the definition of morality (which is easy), and more importantly, discovering the purpose of evolved morality in the society, which can be objectivelly determined using sociology and anthropology:


Sam Harris claims that "moral" propositions and "values" are "concerned with the flourishing of conscious creatures in a society".[5] He argues "Social morality exists to sustain cooperative social relationships, and morality can be objectively evaluated by that standard.



When it comes to defining morality, Harris' main contention in The Moral Landscape is therefore, first, that there are facts about the way that brain activity results in feelings of well-being or suffering. This includes facts about which patterns of thought and action tend to promote such neural events. Following that, Harris makes a pragmatic appeal to common sense, arguing that society should (and already largely does) make decisions based on at least trying to maximize people's well being as the day's science understands it. If this is the case, he says, it seems obvious that we should (and often do) define such discussions as 'moral' discussions[15].

Harris adds that discussions that have no bearing on the so-called "flourishing of conscious creatures" would so simply not be moral discussions, once morality is defined this way[5]. Of course, operationalizing terms related to morality or physics does not prevent alternative use outside the scientific community.[8]


Once the objective sociological purpose of the phenomenon of morality is discovered, we can easily compare different acts, laws, or whole moral systems to determine which fulfill this purpose more or less effectivelly, contrary to claims of moral relativism or nihilism.


Harris believes we must admit that the question of what normally leads to human flourishing has objective, scientific answers. Harris contends that certain beliefs, actions or legal systems may prove to lead reliably to human suffering (e.g. by resulting in dangerously inadequate access to food or health care). He mentions serial murder and acid throwing as examples of practices that are not moral gray areas. That is, these practices are very probably sub-optimal for a society's flourishing[14]. Evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson describes how, while philosophers often identify the most challenging moral situations, there are still many more "moral no brainers".[17]

As with all sciences, various philosophical, religious and intuitive moral views will be validated (and others rejected) In Harris's view, it may be the case that a science of morality leads us to multiple "moral peaks", optimal ethical systems, and Harris believes this would be a success. To Harris, this would mean identifying the more obviously sub-optimal ethical systems (and conversely, any consistent components of a flourishing society). Harris acknowledges that various philosophical or religious intuitions will probably be vindicated by science, and that may happen whether or not the beliefs are held for "justified" reasons.[14][5]


In the past I didnt believe in any objective morality, but after reading some his works, I rethinked my position. In my opinion, objective morality can be determined, using modern science (sociology and anthropology). The claim that to recognize objective (or absolute) morality one must believe in some deity, therefore all atheists must adhere to moral and cultural relativism theory or even nihilism is one of the greatest deceptions theists ever commited.

God or some supernatural higher authority is not needed at all for discovering what is objectivelly moral. Just science and reason.


edit on 9/2/11 by Maslo because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 04:52 AM
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The book caused quite a outrage in the intelectual community, because its openly challenging the status quo that science is unable to answer moral questions, and that these domains are distinct. But it is important to at least discuss this topic, especially if we witness extremist societies for example in islamic countries abusing human rights, and many are justifying their freedom to do so by moral and cultural relativism philosophy.

You can find Sam Harris response to the critics here.



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posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 06:19 AM
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This is a set up to dehumanize the human language. You cannot find morality without the concept of God.
This will destroy the true life feeling the created the human language. And leave behind a purely cerebral or mental function or a rational noise signifying next to nothing.
God is Love. We are all part of this Love. And expresses itself individually in our souls. That is the source of our morality.
Atheists are trying to remove the living truth from the word, after that they are forced to use several additional dehumanised words to try to make up for the word's missing integrity- which offcourse doesn't work.

The Atheist movement has lost control, and it's leading towards transhumanism. Insane.

THE EVOLUTION WE NEED IS SPIRITUAL.
STOP BEING IDIOTS FOR THE SAKE OF MANKIND.
edit on 9-2-2011 by _SilentAssassin_ because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 06:34 AM
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reply to post by _SilentAssassin_
 


Better to use several rational words to "make up" for the worlds integrity, than to use imaginary supernatural beings to do so.

And transhumanism is a great philosophy, transhumanist transformation could be greatest thing that could happen to humanity, if used wisely and not abused. Why would someone sane not want to eliminate suffering, death and scarcity from this world?



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 06:38 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 


It will never work.
You want a rudimentary psychology of a an animal or a dead body.
That will put an end our natural evolution and replace it with machines.
Science does not separate from spirituality they are both complementary and necessary to our development.
edit on 9-2-2011 by _SilentAssassin_ because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 07:39 AM
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reply to post by _SilentAssassin_
 




It will never work.


We should at least try.



You want a rudimentary psychology of a an animal or a dead body.


No I dont. Where have I said that?



That will put an end our natural evolution and replace it with machines.


Only the most extreme (but also probably unreal) forms of transhumanism may. But why would that be a bad thing?



Science does not separate from spirituality they are both complementary and necessary to our development.


Spirituality (in its religious sense) is not required to determine morality. Thats all I am saying. Good spirituality could help maintain it and is surely not detrimental.

edit on 9/2/11 by Maslo because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 07:49 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 


Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

It's as simple as that.. And that too is the Law of Karma, just in scientific form
.

So I figure, the better I am to the universe, the better the universe is to me
.



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 07:51 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 





We should at least try.


Don't you get it? I don't want you to try. Because it will be the end of us.
Each individual is suppose to be ruled by himself, science can help. But man should ruled by goodness.
It's the only way to keep sovereignty on the Earth, and the only way to keep authority and power required to maintain and preserve the joy of life in it.
What you are suggesting, is the evolution of something wholly sinister and wholly 'alien' to human life here on Earth. There is no emotion in such authority.

Humanity humanity...get it right.
edit on 9-2-2011 by _SilentAssassin_ because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 08:17 AM
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reply to post by _SilentAssassin_
 


OK, this is getting a bit off topic, if you want to discuss the pros and cons of transhumanism or technological singularity, make another thread. Atheism, objective morality or humanism does not directly imply transhumanism.

But as every technology or scientific advancement, it would have both pros and cons. Our moral duty is to ensure the good things from transhumanist technologies far outweight the bad effects in practice. Not cowardly running away from the inevitable. Using that logic we would still live in caves and eat raw food - even fire can be misused to do a lot of evil.



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 08:41 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 





OK, this is getting a bit off topic, if you want to discuss the pros and cons of transhumanism or technological singularity, make another thread. Atheism, objective morality or humanism does not directly imply transhumanism. But as every technology or scientific advancement, it would have both pros and cons. Our moral duty is to ensure the good things from transhumanist technologies far outweight the bad effects in practice. Not cowardly running away from the inevitable. Using that logic we would still live in caves and eat raw food - even fire can be misused to do a lot of evil.


What individuals such has Sam Harris want is the end of responsibility. Someone or something to tell them who the are. To much unconscious persons are unavoidably irresponsible to the whole and in conflict with their own being, they live in a divided world of shifting values and colliding circumstances. They have no control over their destiny and no discovered life purpose.
And you wanna know the real reason why?

BECAUSE YOU ATHEISTS HAVE LOST CONTACT WITH YOUR OWN INTEGRITY , HONOUR OR GOD WITHIN.

The world is full of pseudo intellectuals that usurp science to further their atheist worldview.. by creating not only a straw man image of spirituality but also a false dichotomy between it & science. In reality, the 2 do not separate from one another has they are both part of our development. The two coexist, and in fact they are complementary. This will be my last post on this thread. But assure you there will be even more people willing to fight such as myself for the future of our species against the technocratic marxist scientific dictatorship that your proposing. We never sleep. F*** transhumanism.



posted on Feb, 9 2011 @ 08:52 AM
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I'm with Harris on science not knowing about morality....

For me its quite simple, just like eyes are the organ of sight, each human also has an organ that is conscience.

This organ of conscience is for the most part on most people covered up by the mind/thoughts/subjective relativity...

tap into this organ and you will find objective morality. Science needs to focus strictly on conscience.

**note to science!!!! When doing MRI's and other scans for activity of conscience in the brain, you might want to also do an MRI on the heart. You'll be surprised what you find.



posted on Feb, 23 2011 @ 12:06 PM
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reply to post by Maslo
 

Hey, Maslo. Sounds like the villagers are already coming up the mountain with torches to burn the castle lab.

I have always believed that morality is the business of managing the conflict between our instincts for individual survival, status and gratification and our social instincts (altruism, reciprocity and exchange, cooperation, hierarchical integration, etc); that morality is natural to us, and that natural morality is always social morality.

It is also clear to me that the purpose of religion is (and has always been) to corner and subvert this natural morality for purposes of social control, for the benefit of certain interest groups within a society, etc.

Without having read Harris's book, it sounds to me as if he's saying something not entirely dissimilar. I disagree, however, with the assertion that morality should be constructed on a scientific basis. Perhaps it can be – a plodding, dot-and-carry bookkeeper's morality – but why bother when we already have well-established non-religious systems of descriptive ethics, and our own natural moral intuitions, to work with? It sounds awfully like reinventing the wheel. I suppose he means to separate religion from morality. But that's pretty much happened already; recent history has made us all too aware that religious fundamentalists – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or what have you – are easily the world'd most evil people.



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