Sam Harris on The Daily Show

Sam Harris’s book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values is now out. I have been offered a review copy but have yet to see it.

Here is a clip of Jon Stewart and Sam Harris talking about the book on the Daily Show last night.

Sam says some interesting things.

I am sure many will find faults with his book but he has certainly started a much needed discussion on the possibility of an objective basis for morality.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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2 responses to “Sam Harris on The Daily Show

  1. This is the first time I’ve read your blog, and I don’t know whether you are already aware of Nichomachean/Virtue ethics, but I’ll go ahead and ramble anyway.

    What Sam Harris seems to be discussing sounds a lot like Aristotlean ethics, but with an (interesting) emphasis on shifting it towards biology. Rosalind Hursthouse’s ‘On Virtue Ethics’ is a relatively recent and robust defence that resuscitated the moral theory. (As a side note, she’s a lecturer at the University of Auckland).

    In all honesty, starting a discussion on moral calculus doesn’t sound all that new because Jeremy Bentham tried doing it long ago with Utilitarianism. There’s a summary of this in Wikipedia under ‘Felicific calculus’ if you’re curious.


  2. Thanks for the comments Horatio. I would be interested in why specifically you think these things about Sam’s ideas (and some links would help).

    Personally I find Sam’s ideas a bit confused in places and oit always very well worked out. I hope his book will be clearer.

    However, I think he is advancing some important ideas and hope they are considered and discussed more rather than rejected out of hand.

    I personally find much of the current discussion on morality glosses over any objective basis and consequently often seems to concede morality to religion which I am sure is wrong. Sam Is at least promoting the idea if xm objective basis although I think he could do this more specifically and clearly.


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