Several commenters have said I should not just critique the excessive certainty of the New Atheists. I should respond directly to Sam Harris’s Moral Landscape Challenge. I should say why I think the argument he makes about a science of morality are wrong. (Harris argues that what is right and wrong can be determined scientifically, just as we can determine truths in the natural sciences). Fair enough. So this morning I submitted the following text as my entry in his challenge.
I didn’t realize that Jonathan Haidt had a blog! Since his latest post is relevant to our discussions in the last couple of weeks, I thought I’d highlight it here.
I learned a new term I’ll have to remember, since it expresses a concept I’ve only clumsily been able to articulate before. There are anthropocentric facts, such as sugar is sweet, and there are non-anthropocentric facts, such as metal is conductive.
I’d also point out that anthropocentric facts can be further divided into facts of human cognition, such as market prices, and facts of human evolution, such as sugar being sweet. I think it’s important to understand that moral facts have grounding in human evolution, not just human cognition. But as Haidt said, they are still anthropocentric facts.
- This View of Life: Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind (selfawarepatterns.com)
- The Language Of Certainty In Atheism (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Jonathan Haidt: Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind (3quarksdaily.com)