Harris’ New Book Fundamentally Flawed (But Enjoyable!)
Posted: 09 October 2010 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2010-08-30

“Moral Landscape” is only half right in that morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures.

I found an interesting way to point this out when studying M-Theory (which is probably right, though not yet proven).

Here goes…

Wherever you are in this universe, no matter what you are (a flower, a tree, a lion from planet Ergo Maxtor), you are in the center of our universe, and programmed (better or worse) to survive. No matter what species, you have a “moral code” (in the vaguest sense) that resides only in your species and (scientifically speaking) nowhere else (unless there is another “species” somewhere else in this universe that can mate with your species). It may be scientifically immoral to destroy any species (or member of a species) if-and-only-if its death would endanger your own species to kill it, but that is the only scientific reason it could be immoral to destroy it.

Therefore, if an intelligent sexually-incompatible species needs to wipe us off our planet in order to ensure their own survival, they are within their scientific moral “imperative”, and so are we to try to destroy them in turn.

So morality’s core is bound in a given species’ survival, and does not extend to other species that a given species cannot reproduce with. We have no moral obligation to chimpanzees, no matter how intelligent, although someone who kills one for no reason may be revealing psychopathic traits that are potentially harmful to his own species. But, again, such an outcome has nothing to do with the chimp and everything to do with human survival.

I liked Harris’ first two books A LOT, but he needs to go back to the drawing board on this one. He has some nice conclusions, but they are more aesthetic/religious than scientific.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 October 2010 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2010-10-11

What is it you are proposing here as a source of values distinct from the experiences of comscious creatures capable of experiencing happiness and suffering?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 October 2010 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2010-10-14
MJPCamus - 09 October 2010 08:04 PM

“So morality’s core is bound in a given species’ survival, and does not extend to other species that a given species cannot reproduce with. We have no moral obligation to chimpanzees, no matter how intelligent, although someone who kills one for no reason may be revealing psychopathic traits that are potentially harmful to his own species. But, again, such an outcome has nothing to do with the chimp and everything to do with human survival.

I liked Harris’ first two books A LOT, but he needs to go back to the drawing board on this one. He has some nice conclusions, but they are more aesthetic/religious than scientific.

I don’t agree with limiting this moral obligation to only species we can “reproduce with”. I would also say species that have or may have utility or useful information. Which is all of them.

A plant in the rain forest is not something one can “reproduce with”, however it may have useful information in it’s DNA such as cure for diseases. So if one asks should the rain forest be cleared for human activity, one could make the case no because of this useful plant or at a minimum humans need to save the seeds for possible use in the future.

In the case of chimpanzees there is a lot of useful information since they are our closest cousin. Very useful in zoos, nature reserves, science labs.

Suppose science could completely eliminate the HIV. There would be a moral consensus to completely eliminate the disease from humanity(even though it would cause overpopulation problems). But we’d probably want to keep a few samples around for future scientists to study. If we completely eliminated the virus, we’d loose all the useful information in it’s DNA.

A car collector would say it’s a sin to destroy the last type of a classic car. Why? Because it has unique information. You delete the files on your computer with no potentially useful information and keep the ones that do. That’s all so called moral choices are. But everyone’s got a different set of rules for deleting files.

So the bottom line is there is no species that has zero usefulness. Also inanimate objects are useful, if it has information, we would have a moral obligation. So then one could say we have some moral obligation to everything.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 October 2010 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2010-08-30
TheEndofCrazy - 14 October 2010 12:09 PM
MJPCamus - 09 October 2010 08:04 PM

“So morality’s core is bound in a given species’ survival, and does not extend to other species that a given species cannot reproduce with. We have no moral obligation to chimpanzees, no matter how intelligent, although someone who kills one for no reason may be revealing psychopathic traits that are potentially harmful to his own species. But, again, such an outcome has nothing to do with the chimp and everything to do with human survival.

I liked Harris’ first two books A LOT, but he needs to go back to the drawing board on this one. He has some nice conclusions, but they are more aesthetic/religious than scientific.


So the bottom line is there is no species that has zero usefulness. Also inanimate objects are useful, if it has information, we would have a moral obligation. So then one could say we have some moral obligation to everything.

so we agree then…we have a moral obligation to other things for their usefulness to our survival ... NOT because they are conscious (Harris’ idea)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 October 2010 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  11
Joined  2010-08-30
Leela - 11 October 2010 11:43 AM

What is it you are proposing here as a source of values distinct from the experiences of comscious creatures capable of experiencing happiness and suffering?

our species’ survival. humanism.

i would argue against harris’ ideas on this basis: a secular buddhist society is concerned with well-being, but it is still immoral because if we sit around and try to “lose ourselves” we will achieve a temporary peace, and meanwhile the sun/earth is slowly collapsing and we should have been working on scientific ways to become a space-traveling species, less reliant on one single planet or star. so buddhism (insert any religious morality) is then a well-being-based form of ritual species suicide.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 October 2010 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  8
Joined  2010-10-11
MJPCamus - 18 October 2010 06:14 AM
Leela - 11 October 2010 11:43 AM

What is it you are proposing here as a source of values distinct from the experiences of comscious creatures capable of experiencing happiness and suffering?

our species’ survival. humanism.

This is not a source of values that is independent of the experience of conscious creatures.

And survival is not all we seek in the name of morality, is it? We don’t want merely to survive. We want a good life.

The difference between the good life and the bad life is what Harris claims as the only needed basis for morality and for knowing that science can, does, and will always have something to say about morality since the conditions that lead to well-being are not merely random. They depend on such facts about the world and ourselves as the laws of physics, human intentions and attitudes, the laws of biology, states of the brain, etc. Science can study such phenomena to better understand what well-being is and how to achieve it.

MJPCamus - 18 October 2010 06:14 AM

i would argue against harris’ ideas on this basis: a secular buddhist society is concerned with well-being, but it is still immoral because if we sit around and try to “lose ourselves” we will achieve a temporary peace, and meanwhile the sun/earth is slowly collapsing and we should have been working on scientific ways to become a space-traveling species, less reliant on one single planet or star. so buddhism (insert any religious morality) is then a well-being-based form of ritual species suicide.

Your criticism here is not against well-being as morality but of a particular human practice as not serving actually well-being while claiming to.  Though done to pursue well-being, such a practice may actually have disaterous consequences. What Harris is saying is that we are concerned about those consequences. Harris’s point is that all morality is aimed at well-being, but all systems of ethics are not equal in their ability to achieve it.  A society that encourages its citizens to sit around all day trying to lose onesself is morally inferior to others that do a better job promoting well-being.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 January 2011 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  61
Joined  2011-01-09

I strongly disagree as to what I see as an interpretation of “humanism”. Mjpcamus seems to suggest that “humanism” merely represents a particular species of certain anatomical features (“us” as a certain line of primates). And, therefore, suggests some morality that contains the killing of other creatures purely out of some form of survival and fear. And even suggests that someone who practices meditation, that Buddhists mirror within their particular culture, are somehow immoral because they are not considerate of their particular species survival instinct. The “morality” Mjpcamus paints has nothing to do with humanism and everything to do with just being an ape. “Humanism” is a philosophy that “apes” may learn to consider and apply (therefore potentially evolving a more “human” like ape). As a moral-based philosophy it must encompass all species that come out of this earth. “Humanism”, in its true form, recognises that a “human” is one who knows itself to be all of this earth and all other species as one community. A one in communion with earth in it’s entirety. I suggest that Mjpcamus goes “back to the drawing board”, not Harris. Harris is on the right moral track. The “human-humanist” track. And “The Moral Landscape” is merely a signpost pointing down this track. Mjpcamus, I feel, has confused his/her anxiety about his/her inevitable “life’s end” with some “moral” imperative to survive as long as possible regardless of cost to anything else on earth or earth itself. It reminds me of the TV Christian evangelist I heard preach “Man is above animals. You don’t need a brain to figure that out”. And, so, what pray tell did this evangelist “figure” this out with if not his brain? I sugeest that he, and Mjpcamus, “figured things out with…...their emotions (or, the state of them). Those fearful emotions. The ones that fear an end to themselves. Such fear is not based on universally human morality in the context of the Sam Harris premise.

[ Edited: 21 January 2011 08:30 PM by gragor]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 April 2011 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2007-10-13

I don’t see how this relates to the central idea in Sam’s book…let alone how to shows that it is fundamentally flawed.


“Therefore, if an intelligent sexually-incompatible species needs to wipe us off our planet in order to ensure their own survival, they are within their scientific moral “imperative”, and so are we to try to destroy them in turn.”

-Did you read the book?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 May 2011 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  13
Joined  2011-05-14

While it is true that the most basic imperative for man is the need to survive but this is by no means the basis of our moral values. Moral values were created when we began to become a society. When we started to live amongst each other.

here is the ironic about what you are saying: humans are the only animals that deliberately kill their own kind for absolutely no reason or reasons that make no sense. So much for just looking out for our own. On a cognitive level we have a higher capacity for reason than most other animals (if not all) but despite this other animals do not act in ways (negatively) like we do.

Not to sound all spiritual but everything in one way or another is interconnected. Everything in the known universe serves a suitable purpose

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 August 2011 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  5
Joined  2011-08-31

This is a bizarre post. To say that I disagree is an understatment. If I were to give you a shovel and tell you to bash a chimpanzees head in would you be able to do it with a clear conscious? Of course not. But in your view as long as there is no repurcussions to the survivability of yourself or your species, there is no moral consideration. Clearly not true.

Lets suppose you could quantify the suffering of sentient beings by way of some futuristic “sufferometer”. The world at any given time would be registering a global aggregate level of suffering being experienced by all creatures. The obvious collective goal would be to lower the level. surely, each measurable drop in suffering would be cheered on, and each increase lamented. In your view the species creating the sufferometer would be interested in the machine considering data exclusively from its own species, having no regard for others.

The utility of other species to our own aside, I think that the common consensus would be to preserve and allow other lifeforms to share our planet with us for reasons of compassion. Whether this is based in a visceral evolutionary level, or a modern agreed upon morality the consensus is the same.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed