Archive for 'Speculation'


Posted on 29. May, 2013 by .


A short response I made in a forum on Amazon on the book “The Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris. It sums up my feelings about most moral philosophers pretty well, and since a full length post on morality is eluding me, I am going to cheat and post this instead..

[A reader wrote]

“All this demonstrates is that science can teach us that pouring cholera in water can harm/kill people, but it does not explain why it is immoral to do so”

[Another reader responded]

Does this actually require philosophical deliberation to figure out that harming and killing are not right to do? I simply do not understand how anyone can honestly take these kind of arguments seriously. Why do people try to make morality so mystical?

[I responded]

“Does this actually require philosophical deliberation to figure out that harming and killing are not right to do?”

Exactly John. We seem to have it exactly backwards. Rather than requiring convincing and exhaustive evidence that can justify a moral position opposed to the harming of another human being, we should require this same kind of evidence from anyone who commits such acts, and most human cultures in the world have done so, and always have.

It’s only moral philosophers who demand proof that there is something inherently wrong with throwing acid in a little girls face before we dare to condemn it, and it’s only religion, or other dogmas, that can make such an act seem like a good idea in the first place. For a reasonable person it is enough that you are doing something to someone else, that you would not want done to yourself. What some moral philosophers don’t seem to understand is that it doesn’t go any deeper than this. This is in fact why it is immoral. Morality does not exist at the level of sub atomic particles, it exists only at the level of human culture, and it seems reasonable to me, that assuming harming others is immoral, until proven otherwise, will lead to more human flourishing, than assuming that killing each other is morally ambiguous, until proven otherwise, and of course, there is plenty of evidence for this in history and the world,  and there is also little doubt, that this is why humans and other social animals evolved empathy in the first place .

Not much, but it sums up my feelings pretty well. Let me know what you think.

(You can follow the rest of the discussion here if you want.)


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