Title says it all. Massimo Pigliucci wrote a review of The Moral Landscape in Skeptic Magazine. I wonder if that review has been addressed somewhere, in particular by Sam Harris himself.
He has not responded to the review to my knowledge.
Note: in my opinion, this review is hardly even worth responding to. Pigliucci uses the word, ‘seems’ over and over which seems that if he indeed read it, he read it poorly, failing to understand the thesis enough to accurately iterate it, and proceeds to waste the readers time with unctuous annotations about harris’ regard for metaethics and similar approaches to discourse. As a philosopher in part, pigliucci is apt to be incensed by harris, because part of the aim of the book was to start a conversation concerning the science of morality that the layman could have a shot at participating in not to water it it down, but to allay the unnecessary complications that tend to accompany discourses about moral questions once metaethics and the like are brought into it. And seeing as how pigliucci’s kneejerk reaction is to make a weak assumption that harris doesn’t give a damn about moral philosophy, it may be just as well, that massimo cuts himself out of the conversation.
Pigliucci fails to make or at least note, the distinction between the sciences, and the first principles of science; curiousity about the natual world, respect for evidence, intellectual honesty, logical consistency and parsimony, tools which in short enable all the other tools we use in our understaning of the universe and the excercising of our reason, whether or not we are neuroscientists or philosophers.
This review was extremely dishonest.
‘of course, that’s just my opinion i could be wrong.’
I just read the article. I think the abortion is not solvable is valid. Brain scans wont solve that one. It is of bound rationality, too complex for a clear solution. But maybe scanning abortion advocates and opposition we night see he rational areas of the brain are used in the expression of opinion.
On to what moral quandries may be solved: Well it will not solve the issues directly (scans cant calculate for us ) but can help gather objective evidence to be rationally weighed. For instance if flourishing people have x brain states there may be theorems and answers (not of folk psychology but neurology ) to evidential questions about the causes of flourishing. Like it has been found that ecstacy can damage nerve fibres, or too much drink cause brain damage. If we accept the premise they relate to non benign states of consciousness then science has perhaps a set of standard measures to use in debates where relativism might otherwise hold sway. Secondly Perhaps it might help people relate to one another. For instance a pro lifer might show signs of what could be intense grief in a choicer. So it may encourage empathy and connection. Also it could survey violent people and lead to an understanding of the phenomenology of deviant behavior, and its development through time in therapy or prison or life stages etc perhaps the dynamics of rehabilitation can be decoded . Finally on the obvious wrongness of genital mutilation. The author has switched from the abortion dilemma here , from perhaps intracable to a simple. But we might address tribal beliefs causing mutilation and the non rational nature of taboos by leading them from one set of dispositions to other neural areas (for instance demonstrate sexual pain equivalents to them in tales of subjects with other equivalent pain states from other injuries, thus causing empathy with objective standards to demonstrate the validity of the claims. )
Maybe it the future there will be PET profiles employees hand in whit their cv’s.