Harris is refreshingly upfront about his argument: the subtitle of his book is How Science Can Determine Human Values. It's a full-frontal assault on the Humean notion that you can't get an "ought" (a principle about how the world should be) from an "is" (a descriptive finding about how the world actually is). Neurobiology is changing all that, Harris insists. In principle, if not yet in practice, we'll be able to study – as a matter of scientific fact – which policies, laws and lifestyles lead to the greatest human wellbeing. Dictatorships can thus be shown to promote more misery and less happiness than democracies. Dodgy relativistic notions about, say, female genital mutilation being acceptable in certain cultural contexts, will collapse; science can demonstrate that FGM greatly reduces wellbeing for those who undergo it, and that's the end of the argument. #science #news #morality
I wonder if Harris is at all aware of the arguments set forth by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, and elsewhere, regarding this. Not saying that Harris is wrong, but what happens when Lewis's predicted Abolition of Man happens, and ethics ceases to be anything more than conditioning?
You see many people present their views and theories about the human condition. All I have is life experience and as far as I can tell, the human race is mentally ill or BATSHITCRAZY. Look at very recent history? Mutually Assured Destruction is very much like two men standing in a swimming pool full of petrol. They both have a lighter and they constantly threaten each other with lighting the petrol?? Now honestly that's crazy. The problem is these gonzos rule the planet. So as a layperson We are collectively nuts.
Harris is an interesting speaker and science promoter. Unfortunately in the end all science will show us about the human condition is that the blind clock maker is indifferent to your happiness.
Despite their protestations and claims to the contrary the blank slate theory of human nature still influences the scientific community. Even evolutionary psychologist are prone to reject the obvious such as multi level selection in favor of a politically correct vision of reality.
The scientific socialism experiment was run in the Soviet Union and was a disaster. A more scientific version is being ran in California and for the most part it looks to be imploding. The evidence suggests that a scientific technocracy is just another dystopian dream.
Even if neurobiology learns how to alter peoples behavior we will find that to alter things such as criminality in the soft socialist vision that Harris promotes it cannot be implemented on a voluntary basis. Socialism has always been authoritarian for a reason. For example the Japanese having learned the lessons of WWII declared that no government has the right to impose the kind of restrictions in response to Covid 19 that Western Governments have.
I wish Harris would listen to Dennett and understand the importance and reality of socially constructed agency. Harris's mechanistic determinism is simply underestimating complexity.
When we say you can't get to and ot from an is, at least in this case, it is in recognition that humans like all animals are driven by instinct. E. O. Wilson sums it up nicely by saying socialism: great idea, wrong species.