ted.com video on how science can answer morality questions | INFJ Forum

ted.com video on how science can answer morality questions

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Feelings, Apr 5, 2010.

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  1. Feelings

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    There's a lot of great thought provoking videos on ted.com, but I just watched one that I thought some members may have interest in:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html
    You have to copy and paste the link, because the forum doesn't link it correctly.

    "Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life."
     
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    #1 Feelings, Apr 5, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  2. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Yeah, he is right about the general topic, however the aggressive way he addressed other cultures in particular, without even hiding his resentment, actually puts him quite low on his own moral scale.
     
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  3. IndigoSensor

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    Heh. I watched this last week.

    It was very interesting to listen to, but to be honest something about it just bothered me. I responded to it in a similar way when I first read plato. I agreed overall with the guy, but his methods annoyed the crap out of me!

    Basicly, I agree that yes science can answer moral questions (not all of them though), and that there are some that are intrinsicly "better" then others. However something like morality which is highly subjective, can't be equated by cold logic. Nor should it be.

    This guy is very much an INTJ to. You can see it before he even talks.
     
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  4. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    I was disappointed by this. There was nothing novel about his presentation; it was just a statement of the obvious: that given certain criteria, things could be sorted into "better" and "worse" categories. But he still had to assume the criteria to make it work. He started with the assumption that whatever made society as a whole happier and more functional was "better." In short, he defined morals according to what was good for humans, and went from there trying to figure out what would produce the best results. That is humanism, not science.
     
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  5. IndigoSensor

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    You know, I "knew" this, but didn't actually know it until you said it. It did strike me like he was just using "science" as a bubble term to promote secular belief systems. With a touch of him coaxing his own ego.
     
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  6. Jasmine85

    Jasmine85 Regular Poster

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    I liked his talk. I think there was an interesting idea in there that offers promise, although it does need some fleshing out before it can be properly judged. But I like the basic idea of reinterpreting morality as a mathematical optimisation problem. The goal of which is to minimize the suffering of living beings. The variables of the problem are the boundaries of what is permissible behaviour. And the constraints of those variables are to be determined experimentally and scientifically.

    My only worry is that we'd end up with a utilitarian solution, where people are reduced to numbers in a equation, and the solution ends up with a majority living very well, and a few that aren't living well at all, but they don't matter.
     
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  7. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    the link appears to be busted, can some else confirm it
     
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  8. On my own path

    On my own path Community Member

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    Sadly I was unable to complete the video but it still had the transcript
    I agree, this is more the most part humanism. I sort of disagree with utilitarianism though. It takes minorities to be of absolutely no importance. Perhaps if coupled with the harm principle it may be more viable.I agree that a portion of some morality questions may still be unanswerable even with these principles. Two things I would laud him for though : that he made it clear the principles may not always be applicable, and when he referred to a particular demographic group he seemed to maintain that he was talking about general patterns and trends and did not state his observations as ubiquitous ( something I rarely see the majority of people do or even fathom to consider or try)
     
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  9. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    I wouldn't say he was promoting secular belief systems specifically, since most all people, religious or not, are humanists in the sense that he was assuming. It's hard to find people who actually want things to go badly for humanity. My complaint is that he provided no logical starting point besides "we like it this way," so he was just stating the obvious, nothing worth our time.
     
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  10. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    The same video on youtube:
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4zpHww"]YouTube- Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions[/ame]

    @Indigo, yep, Plato is a bastard too.
     
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  11. IndigoSensor

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    He is not a bastard, he is just exceedingly annoying who refuses to bend ANY moral principal that he hold for himself (which is actually kinda ironic for me to say). He also uses logic to the point where I want to choke myself. I can only handle so much Ti before my eyes roll to the back of my head.

    The guy is smart, and has a lot of well founded moral ground and rightous principals, but there so freaking rigid and the cold logic is nauseating.
     
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  12. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    I'm joking about Plato. He is not a bastard, he is actually right about most of his observations, but there are other ways too. I think Plato is ISTP, you will find many ISTPs today happen to still show inclination to agree with such class-based attitude to society; very pride-driven and ideal-oriented. He also was quite the sportsman, and olympic champion.

    Sam Harris as INTJ is much more bearable for me to agree with, although he shows some extreme bigotry in his TED presentation too. I think it's hard for xNTJs to get out of their own society standards for some of the daily matters. They tend to assume them to be universal, and may be repulsed by some other cultures, from what I've seen so far. To quote Churchill: "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." What can I say to that, poor xNTJs. :/ Not saying that they are racists still today, but my guess is that their xSFP shadows have this artistic bias towards the culture they've grown up in, and completely radical turn away from it may be painfully uncomfortable for them.
     
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  13. TaylorS

    TaylorS Community Member

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    I, as an Atheist, usually like Harris, but this was a big violation of Hume's Is-Ought Principle and he should know better than to fall into such a fallacy. This is the typical T failing of not seeing, or being in denial of, any non-logical elements in their assumptions and deep principles. It is logically impossible to derive normative statements from facts of the world.

    I also don't like many aspects of non-Western socieites, mainly the misogyny, sexism, and lack of respect for Human Rights, but Harris is totally nuts, here. As ECBS said, I think he's showing his shadow, here.
     
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  14. Rakawi

    Rakawi Community Member

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    Hrmm, the link's not working in the op and the second one keeps freezing up. I'll try the site.
     
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    #14 Rakawi, Apr 13, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
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